Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman say in a new court filing that any “misstatements” he made to prosecutors in their long-running investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election were “unintentional” and that he won’t contest the prosecutors’ claim that he lied.
Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller had contended in November that Paul Manafort, who headed Trump’s campaign for several months in mid-2016, had told “multiple discernible lies” during 12 interview sessions after he had agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
They contended the 69-year-old Manafort, facing years in prison, had breached the cooperation agreement that was reached when he pleaded guilty to cheating U.S. tax authorities, violating federal lobbying laws and obstructing justice in connection with his long-time lobbying efforts for deposed Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych in the years before he worked on Trump’s campaign.
Move on to sentencing
In the new court filing disclosed Tuesday, Manafort’s lawyers decided not to contest the allegations that Manafort lied and asked a judge to move on to sentencing Manafort in the coming weeks. Manafort also was convicted last summer of financial crimes in a Virginia trial just outside Washington.
The lawyers said Manafort was suffering from gout, anxiety and depression and never purposely lied.
“The defense contests the government’s conclusion [that Manafort lied] and contends that any alleged misstatements, to the extent they occurred at all, were not intentional,” his lawyers said.
The Mueller prosecutors, who for 20 months have been investigating Trump campaign links to Russia and whether Trump, as president, tried to illegally obstruct the probe, contended that Manafort lied about least five subjects. This includes his connection with former business partner Konstanin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian accused by prosecutors of having ties to Russian intelligence.
Shared polling data
The Associated Press said it saw a redacted portion of the filing by the Manafort lawyers that wasn’t properly blacked out showing that Manafort lied about sharing political polling data with Kilimnik while he was working on the Trump campaign. Kilimnik, who has been charged by Mueller with obstruction of justice for allegedly tampering with witnesses in the Manafort case, has denied ties with Russian intelligence.
Russia has denied interfering in the election, while Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia to help him win the election.
In addition to winning the case against Manafort, Mueller and other federal prosecutors have secured guilty pleas for various offenses from Trump’s first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, former campaign aide Rick Gates, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, among others.