Judge Pulls Paul Manafort’s Plea Deal, Says He “Intentionally” Lied To FBI, Mueller & Grand Jury
A federal judge on Wednesday voided Paul Manafort‘s plea agreement after determining President Donald Trump‘s former 2016 campaign chairman “intentionally” lied to federal investigators, special counsel Robert Mueller and a grand jury.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote that Manafort “made multiple false statements to the FBI, the [office of Special Counsel] and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation,” including his communications with a Russian associate.
The latest development regarding Manafort marks yet another victory for Mueller, who continues to probe Russian meddling during the 2016 election and potential collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin.
In August, Manafort was convicted on multiple financial crimes including bank and tax fraud. The following month, he struck an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to two charges of witness tampering and conspiracy. Manafort was also revealed to have performed work as a lobbyist for pro-Russia political entities in Ukraine. Trump has said he may consider pardoning Manafort, who last month was revealed to have shared polling intel from Trump’s 2016 campaign with his longtime Russian associate.
Democrat @RepJayapal suggests former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort may have lied to Mueller team in order to protect President Trump in hopes of winning a pardon. https://t.co/olvyB2IVq2 pic.twitter.com/EQpxNfkPx5
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) February 14, 2019
Jackson ruled that Manafort purposely lied about $125,000 he obtained for legal payments, about another unrelated Justice Department inquiry and about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, his longtime Ukrainian-born Russian business partner. As part of the terms of Jackson’s new ruling, Manafort is now forbidden from retracting his guilty pleas.
Manafort’s attorneys have repeatedly argued that he did not purposely lie to anyone. His spokesman Peter Carr has not yet commented on the new development.
Jackson’s first sentence of Manafort is set for March 13. Last week, Manafort was reportedly interviewed for approximately four hours during a sealed court hearing, and then again for nearly two hours at Wednesday’s closed-door hearing.
Prosecutors in Manafort’s case are also reportedly seeking to determine whether an August 2016 meeting between him and Kilimnik regarding Ukrainian peace had any kind of effect on U.S. sanctions on Russia.