The special counsel overseeing the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election detailed on Friday multiple “lies” that Donald Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort had told investigators, leading to a termination of his cooperation deal.
In a heavily redacted court filing, Robert Mueller’s office said Manafort lied about ongoing contacts he had with administration officials after striking a plea agreement; lied about a debt payment he made; and lied about dealings with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort business associate who US officials suspect is a Russian intelligence operative.
“The defendant breached his plea agreement in numerous ways by lying to the FBI and Special Counsel’s Office,” it added.
Federal prosecutors said Manafort initially told them he didn’t have any contact with anyone in the Trump administration. But prosecutors said they recovered “electronic documents” showing his contacts with multiple administration officials. The officials were not identified in the court filings.
The filing was made to demonstrate to the federal district court why sentencing Manafort on financial fraud and witness-tampering charges should be moved up to as early as this month rather than next year, as Manafort’s original cooperation deal envisaged.
The breach of the plea deal could lead to a stiffer jail sentence than the 10 years originally envisaged for the 69-year-old Manafort.
Manafort, a veteran Republican consultant who led Trump’s election campaign for several months in 2016, has been convicted mostly on charges related to his work for pro-Moscow politicians in Ukraine between 2004 and 2014.
But he has also been investigated for his possible role in alleged campaign collusion with Russia during the election.
After being convicted on August 21 in a jury trial in a Virginia court on one set of charges, he agreed to plead guilty to a second set on September 14.
“Manafort told multiple discernible lies — these were not instances of mere memory lapses,” the filing said.
The White House dismissed that filing, arguing it “says absolutely nothing about the president.”
“Once again the media is trying to create a story where there isn’t one,” said Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.