Manafort Claims Deep State Leakers’ ‘Elaborate Hoax’ Boosted Mueller Probe

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort claimed in a court filing Monday evening that government leakers sought to boost Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and influence the grand juries that ultimately brought indictments against Manafort.

The court document, filed in the case against Manafort brought in Virginia, zeroed in on news stories detailing investigations into Manafort’s communications with Russian intel operatives. Manafort said the government has not turned over any evidence in its discovery process of such communications, leading Manafort to suggest that the leaks were an “elaborate hoax” to sway the grand jury.

He is asking that U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III hold a hearing on the issue later this month.

Manafort has been charged with bank fraud, tax fraud and other financial crimes, many of which stem from lobbying work in Ukraine that predated the 2016 campaign. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well as to similar charges brought against him in Washington, D.C.

His court filing on Monday evening pointed to about a half dozen stories starting in October 2016 and through February 2018 that allegedly “contained information from government sources that was clearly subject to grand jury secrecy, was potentially classified information, or was simply false.”

Manafort acknowledged that some of the stories don’t specifically say they came from government sources. But he alleged that even in those instances it is “abundantly clear” that the sources were current or former government officials. To support that claim, he brought up a CNN story about Rick Gates working on a plea deal in which Gates’ attorney did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. By process of elimination, Manafort concluded that the “only reasonable inference” is that government officials leaked the negotiations.

Regardless, his filing urges that the alleged leakers be identified.

Read the full filing below:

Comments