U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in an order Wednesday that Paul Manafort had violated his plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller.
Her order also said that Mueller had shown by a preponderance of evidence that Manafort had lied about three of the five topic areas in which prosecutors accused the former Trump campaign chairman of making intentionally false statements. In the other two topic areas, Mueller failed to sufficiently prove that Manafort lied, Berman Jackson said.
Specifically Berman Jackson found by a preponderance of the evidence that Manafort had lied about a $125,000 payment, about certain interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate Mueller has tied to Russian intelligence, and about a matter in an unspecified Justice Department investigation.
The judge, however, said prosecutors had failed to establish that Manafort lied about his contacts with the Trump administration or about the role Kilimnik played in efforts to engage in witness tampering in his case.
Her findings could have a major impact on the sentence she hands down to Manafort. Manafort’s attorneys had tried to push off dealing with the allegations that he misled investigators until later in the sentencing process. Berman Jackson rejected that move, and instead held two sealed hearings lasting hours to rule on Mueller’s allegations.
Manafort reached the cooperation deal with prosecutors just before the case against him in D.C. was set to go trial. As part of the deal, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and to a conspiracy to obstruct justice via witness tampering.
He had previously been convicted by a jury in Virginia in the case that Mueller brought against him there. The judge in the Virginia case had delayed sentencing in light of the proceedings in D.C. over whether Manafort had breached the deal.
In what was dramatic development in Manafort’s ongoing legal saga, Mueller first unveiled in November that he had found Manafort in breach of the plea agreement for not being truthful while purportedly cooperating with investigators.
While the charges Mueller brought against Manafort mainly stemmed from his consulting work in Ukraine that predated the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the lie allegations — due to a redaction error by Manafort’s own attorneys — revealed new details about Mueller’s probe.