Politics

Documents show Manafort lied about communications with White House and Russian contact

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort leaves the Prettyman Federal Courthouse after a bail hearing November 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates both pleaded not guilty Monday to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, seen here not wearing orange

As scheduled, special counsel returned to federal court on Friday afternoon to explain earlier statements that Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort had breached his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to investigators. Robert Mueller used up every moment of the clock, not stepping into court until late on Friday afternoon to provide the judge with details on those topics where he believed that Manafort had lied. The documents accuse Manafort of lying about five different topics, including his communications with his primary Russian contact, Konastantin Kilimnik, and contacts with administration officials during a period where Manafort told investigators there was no such contact.

What’s not in the document is any direct connection between the things that Manafort did in relation to Russia, and those he did in relation to the Trump campaign or White House. Earlier in the day, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani indicated that he believed that one of the areas that would appear on Mueller’s list was an accusation that Manafort lied in saying that Donald Trump did not know about the Trump Tower meeting between his campaign team and Russian operatives. However, that topic, if it is covered at all, is covered in terms vague enough that it’s not-obvious.

There are some section of the document which are redacted. However, these redacted sections seem to be in connection with Manafort’s dealings with Kilimnik, both in terms of his communications and meetings with Kilimnik, and with Kilimnik’s efforts to obstruct justice by silencing witnesses. There is also information redacted in connection with some payments that Manafort made to various companies—likely in connection to his money laundering and bank fraud charges. 

When it comes to Manafort’s connections with the Trump White House, the document simply accuses the former campaign chair of continuing to talk to senior officials right up to February of 2018 even though he told investigators there had been no such contact. Considering that Manafort was also passing along information about the investigation through his legal team, that would also seem to compound that lie, though that is not mentioned in the document.

The document makes it clear that the examples provided are not exhaustive, and the contacts with Trump officials are just examples. But — unlike the Cohen documents filed on Friday — there seems to be little here that would be of immediate concern to Donald Trump. The biggest takeaway is that Manafort remained in contact with the administration. That could ultimately have an impact on anything from the story that Manafort was passing to investigators, to suggestions on how the White House could play their hand.

Manafort seems to have simply assumed he could lie with impunity. He was wrong.


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