Mueller may have more to reveal about Manafort’s alleged lies
Lawyers for Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, said on Tuesday they are receiving more information from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about the lies Manafort allegedly told investigators.
That could prompt Manafort’s lawyers to drop their challenge to Mueller’s claim from late November that Manafort broke the terms of his plea deal by lying, journalists reported from the Washington, D.C., federal courtroom.
At the time Mueller first made that claim, the defense attorneys argued that Manafort had been truthful. But Manafort’s lawyers could not repeat that assertion to Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday afternoon.
Manafort’s legal team will decide whether to commit to that challenge in a court filing to the judge due Jan. 7. A pre-sentence hearing has been tentatively set for Jan. 25, and Manafort’s sentencing date is scheduled for March 5.
Manafort was found guilty in August on eight criminal counts lodged by Mueller in Virginia federal court. On the eve of a second trial in D.C. district court a month later, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. That consulting work began years before he joined the Trump campaign.
But Mueller rescinded the plea deal in late November, announcing in a joint court filing that Manafort committed “crimes and lies” after signing the deal.
Mueller in a court filing Friday offered some details about the lies Manafort allegedly told, though much of the information was redacted. The special counsel added in that document that “if the defendant contends the government has not acted in good faith, the government is available to prove the false statements at a hearing.”
They said the lies were related to Manafort’s contacts with individuals in the Trump administration, contacts with suspected Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik, and inconsistent information he told Justice Department investigators in another district, among others.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Monday granted a request from Manafort’s legal team to move up the hearing, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday morning. The court appearance was ordered “in lieu of” a written response to Mueller’s allegations. NBC News, however, reported Monday that those lawyers are still preparing to file a written submission this week.
Manafort is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia. He waived his right to appear at the courthouse Tuesday afternoon, citing “the time involved in having the U.S. Marshal Service transport me to and from the courthouse.”