Manafort accused of lying about sharing polling data with Russian

Charlene Craig
January 11, 2019

Manafort's legal team accidentally revealed in a court filing on Tuesday in the special counsel's probe that the longtime GOP consultant provided the data to his associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, during the 2016 campaign.

The filing was badly redacted, allowing an unintended glimpse at previously undisclosed areas of Mueller's investigation into whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign worked with Russian Federation to influence the election.

The filing did not provide further details on the Madrid meeting or the peace plan, although Mueller has scrutinized a proposal by a Ukrainian lawmaker that involved, among other outcomes, the lifting of US sanctions on Russian Federation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The same is true with regard to the Government's allegation that Mr. Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign.

According to prosecutors, he and Kilimnik contacted potential witnesses in Mueller's investigation, trying to tell them what to say if they were questioned - a federal crime.

Manafort joined Trump's presidential campaign in March 2016 and became his campaign chairman in May.

Prosecutors have previously said they believe Kilimnik has ties to the military intelligence unit the GRU, which allegedly hacked the Democratic Party and leaked damaging emails while Manafort ran Trump's campaign operation.

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Mueller claimed on November 26 that Manafort breached that September plea deal and committed crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the special counsel's office on "a variety of subject matters". Manafort was secretly coordinating with Kilimnik, and kept that fact hidden even when pressed on the issue under criminal penalty.

The redacted portions could be accessed by copying and pasting portions that are blacked out, meaning anyone with a computer could read what was meant to remain secret.

"It is not surprising at all that Mr Manafort was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed", Manafort's team wrote.

The filing also says Manafort has been accused of lying to investigators by saying that he did not discuss a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik.

Manafort's lawyers said their client had no reason to misrepresent the truth in his 12 interviews with investigators late a year ago. Prosecutors say Manafort acknowledged the meeting only after being told that they were in the same city on the same day.

Manafort met Kiliminik in Madrid in January or February 2017, according to Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni. He declined to comment on other pieces of the filing.

While some of the redacted information was not a big deal, there was one section of the failed redaction that appears to shed light on Mueller's understanding of Manafort's roll in the 2016 presidential election.

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They also said that Mueller alleges Manafort was in contact with someone who asked him permission to use Manafort's name "as an introduction" in the event that the person met the president.

Additionally, the US Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled against a mystery foreign company for defying a grand jury subpoena related to the special counsel's inquiry.

Kilimnik has not entered a plea in U.S. courts, and Manafort has pleaded guilty to the witness tampering allegation and has been convicted on several lobbying-related financial crimes. He's also suffering from depression and anxiety, it said.

Manafort was convicted in federal court in Virginia in August of bank fraud and tax evasion connected to his work in Ukraine.

In September, on the eve of a second trial in Washington, D.C., Manafort struck a plea deal with prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for "broad" cooperation.

For the two charges he now faces in DC federal court, Manafort could receive 17 to 22 years in prison, his plea agreement says.

However, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson could hold such a hearing if she found it necessary.

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