Mueller: Manafort Lied About 2018 Contacts With Trump Administration

TPM Illustration. Photos by Getty Images/ Alex Wong/ Elsa
December 7, 2018 6:00 p.m.

Special counsel Robert Mueller in a court filing Friday detailed for a judge the lies former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly told investigators, including after he agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.

In the filing, Mueller says that his investigators confronted Manafort’s attorneys in November about what prosecutors believed were “multiple lies” Manafort had told them. Among the lies, Mueller said were about contacts he had or sought with administration officials. Mueller said he denied such communications, despite evidence prosecutors say they have showing that as late as February Manafort was claiming to be in touch with an administration official and a text in May, in which Manafort authorized someone else to contact an administration official on his behalf.

The filing comes after Mueller revealed last week that he believed Manafort was in breach of his plea agreement and thus it was time to move on to sentencing. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has scheduled a sentencing hearing for March.

Mueller said Manafort lied about his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who had worked closely with Manafort on his consulting projects in Ukraine, as well as about Kilmnik’s alleged efforts to obstruct justice via witness tampering. Manafort also lied about a wire transfer made by a firm working for him, according to Mueller, and about “information pertinent to another Department of Justice investigation.”

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Mueller goes into more detail about those allegedly false statements, though much of that section of the court filing is redacted. However, the section about his lies about his contacts with the administration is presented in full. Texts show that Manafort in May 2018 has “authorized a person to speak to an Administration official on his behalf,” and another Manafort colleague said that Manafort in February 2018 claimed to have been in contact with a senior Administration official. Manafort, in his interviews with Mueller prosecutors, had denied any contact — direct or indirect — with officials currently in the administration.

“A review of documents recovered from a search of Manafort’s electronic documents demonstrates additional contacts with Administration officials,” the filing said.

The filing does not say what the content of those communications or attempted communications were. It’s been previously reported that a possible pardon had been discussed internally in the White House — and with an attorney for Manafort before he was indicted in October 2017. Trump himself said recently that he had not taken a pardon of Manafort off the table.

Notably, the administration contacts alleged by Mueller Friday happened well after Mueller had brought charges. It’s not clear how they fit with the communications Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has claimed to have had with Manafort’s legal team, communications Giuliani says continued even after Manafort had agreed to a plea deal with Mueller.

Mueller last year brought charges for various financial crimes against Manafort, mostly stemming from his consulting work in Ukraine, which predated his work for Trump. A jury convicted Manafort of eight counts in the tax fraud and bank fraud case Mueller brought against Manafort in Virginia. Just before a separate trial in D.C. was set to start, Manafort pleaded guilty in that case to conspiracy against the U.S. and obstruction of justice in the form of witness tampering.

According to Mueller’s filing Friday, Manafort met with the special counsel’s team and with the FBI three times before entering his plea deal and nine times after. He also was called to testify in front of a grand jury on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. The following week, Mueller’s team raised their allegations of Manafort’s lies to his lawyers. Prosecutors continued to discuss the alleged false statements with Manafort’s attorneys on “several occasions,” and even agreed, at the Manafort attorney’s request, to seek that the deadline on a status report be delayed 10 days last month, but refused to agree to another extension after that.

“In none of the communications with Manafort’s counsel was any factual or legal argument made as to why the government’s assessment of Manafort’s credibility was erroneous or made without good faith,” Mueller said.

Read Friday’s filing below:

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