Judge finds Manafort lied to prosecutors after cooperation deal
Paul Manafort/Mark Reinstein (Shutterstock.com).
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, breached a cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller by lying about his interactions with a Ukrainian business associate who had ties to Russia.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C., found that the intentional misstatements freed prosecutors from an obligation to support a downward departure from sentencing guidelines. The New York Times, Politico, the Washington Post and the National Law Journal covered the decision.
Jackson’s ruling also could affect Manafort’s sentencing in a separate federal case in which he was convicted for tax and bank fraud. Prosecutors had agreed to ask that the sentences in the two cases be served concurrently, but they are no longer bound by that promise.
The Ukrainian business associate was Konstantin Kilimnik, said to have ties to Russian intelligence. Prosecutors have been investigating whether he was involved in Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, according to the New York Times. A redaction error by Manafort’s lawyers last month revealed that Manafort had allegedly shared polling data on the Trump presidential campaign with Kilimnik.
Jackson said Manafort also had made false statements in connection with another U.S. Justice Department investigation and had lied about a payment made to a law firm. The law firm payment had covered Manafort’s legal bills, and it was routed through a pro-Trump political action committee, the New York Times explains.
Jackson ruled other accusations of false statements were not proven, however, including statements about Manafort’s contacts with the Trump administration after the election.
Manafort’s lawyers had claimed any misstatements were due to poor preparation and deteriorating mental health while being held in solitary confinement.
Manafort had pleaded guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy before Jackson in September. He had been accused of conspiring to act as an unregistered agent for the government of Ukraine and its former pro-Russian president, generating more than $60 million in income. Prosecutors said Manafort had used offshore accounts to hide income, cheating the United States out of more than $15 million in taxes.
Prosecutors said that, as part of his lobbying scheme, Manafort had solicited a U.S. law firm to write a report on the trial of an opponent of the Ukrainian president. Press reports said the firm was Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.