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Manafort Claims There’s No Proof He ‘Intentionally Lied’ to Robert Mueller


The legal team for former Trump campaign chairman and convicted felon Paul Manafort has responded to special counsel Robert Mueller‘s accusation that he “lied repeatedly” to investigators, in breach of a cooperation agreement.

Team Manafort filed the document on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The document was initially filed under seal and did have some redactions, but actually… these weren’t redacted at all. We’ll get to all of that in a moment.

Manafort contends that special counsel Mueller does not have proof that he “intentionally lied,” but also says he will not be requesting a hearing on the issue of the breached agreement.

“Over the course of twelve meetings with Government attorneys and agents, Mr. Manafort spent numerous hours answering questions. During these interview sessions, Mr. Manafort provided complete and truthful information to the best of his ability,” Manafort’s defense said. “He attempted to live up to the requirements of his cooperation agreement and provided meaningful cooperation relating to several key areas under current government investigation. He also cooperated by providing the government with access to his electronic devices, email accounts, and related passwords. Finally, he continues to cooperate in an effort to ensure the orderly forfeiture of his assets.”

Then Team Manafort accused Mueller of ignoring Manafort’s helpfulness to pursue a breach issue.

“Rather than emphasizing Mr. Manafort’s substantial and meaningful performance, the Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”) claims that he has breached his agreement and provided intentionally false information related to five subjects addressed further below,” they said. “Despite Mr. Manafort’s position that he has not made intentional misstatements, he is not requesting a hearing on the breach issue.”

They say that they are not pursuing a breach hearing because it is too difficult to defeat the government in that area — “it is incumbent upon the defendant to show that the prosecution somehow acted in bad faith in declaring a breach of the agreement based on those facts.” Instead, they suggest that “any necessary factual determinations [should be] addressed as part of the presentencing report (‘PSR’) process.”

You may recall that days after Mueller filed a sentencing memo for fired national security advisor Michael Flynn, Mueller detailed the lies Manafort allegedly told investigators after Manafort reached a cooperation agreement with the special counsel.

Mueller said Manafort “lied in multiple ways and on multiple occasions.”

Mueller said that Manafort breached his plea agreement in “numerous ways by lying to the FBI and Special Counsel’s Office.” The special counsel said that one of the “principal lies” related to Konstantin Kilimnik. If the name Konstantin Kilimnik sounds familiar, that’s probably because it was mentioned almost in the same breath as the news the Manafort was hit with witness tampering charges. Back in June, Mueller issued a superseding indictment, adding obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges to a litany of lobbying and fraud offenses to Manafort’s charges. It was then that Kilimnik was slapped for lobbying violations.

Manafort referred to Kilimnik as his “Russian brain” in the past. Kilimnik apparently “earn[ed] the title ‘Manafort’s Manafort.’” Manafort was also accused of lying About his contact with Trump Administration officials.

Mueller said that Manafort lied about “interactions with Kilimnik” and lied about Kilimnik’s “participation in court two of the superseding information [referred to above]” Mueller also said that Manafort lied about a “wire-transfer to a firm that was working for Manafort,” lied about “information pertinent to another Department of Justice investigation” and lied about “his contact with Administration officials.”

“The evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts. The evidence demonstrates that Manafort had contacts with Administration officials. For instance, in a text exchange from May 26, 2018, Manafort authorized a person to speak with an Administration official on Manafort’s behalf,” Mueller continued.

“Separately, according to another Manafort colleague, Manafort said in February 2018 that Manafort had been in communication with a senior Administration official up through February 2018,” Mueller said.  “A review of documents recovered from a search of Manafort’s electronic documents demonstrates additional contacts with Administration officials.”

Mueller concluded by saying that Manafort didn’t lie by accident, saying he “told multiple discernible lies” that “were not instances of mere memory lapses.”

Team Manafort responded to Mueller’s accusations by saying Manafort’s time behind bars and the broad line of questioning that happened shortly after reaching the cooperation agreement contributed to Manafort’s misremembering.

“Many of the questions put to Mr. Manafort during the proffer meetings were broad in scope and, more often than not, documentary materials relevant to the areas of inquiry were not provided to him in advance,” they said. “Because materials were not provided for his review in jail the night before interview sessions, Mr. Manafort often did not have the opportunity to refresh his recollection of events and conversations that occurred many years ago.”

Manafort’s lawyers also mentioned their client’s failing mental and physical health.

“For several months Mr. Manafort has suffered from severe gout, at times confining him to a wheelchair. He also suffers from depression and anxiety and, due to the facility’s visitation regulations, has had very little contact with his family,” they continued. “Indeed, it is fair to say that mistakes and failed recollections are common to most proffer meetings between the Government and cooperating witnesses.”

But the most interesting thing of all about this was not what was said. What was said was, by and large, expected. It’s what wasn’t supposed to be said.

Manafort’s team responded to the accusations that he knowingly lied about his contacts with the Trump Administrations by failing to redact lines to mention “the President.” Mueller’s breach filing made no mention of “the President.” This was their initial response to the allegations:

Mr. Manafort was briefly asked several questions related to contacts with the Administration and explained that, although he knew many individuals who had been appointed to positions within the Administration, he did not believe that he had any direct or indirect communications with any of them during the time that those individuals actually served in the Administration. Mr. Manafort was asked specifically about communications with two Administration officials but did not recall having a conversation with either individual or reaching out to either individual during the period they worked in the Administration. In its submission, the OSC cites two examples, first, where Mr. Manafort appears to have authorized a third-party to speak to someone in the Administration and, second, where a witness appears to have told the OSC that Mr. Manafort stated to the witness that that he had contact with another Administration official. The Special Counsel has also provided defense counsel with additional examples that appear to reflect several additional (mostly indirect) contacts with individuals during periods they worked in the Administration.

There is no support for the proposition that Mr. Manafort intentionally lied to the Government.

And this was the not-so-redacted portion:

The first alleged misstatement identified in the Special Counsel’s submission (regarding a text exchange on May 26, 2018) related to a text message from a third-party asking permission to use Mr. Manafort’s name as an introduction in the event the third-party met the President. This does not constitute outreach by Mr. Manafort to the President. The second example identified by the Special Counsel is hearsay purportedly offered by an undisclosed third party and the defense has not been provided with the statement (or any witness statements that form the basis for alleging intentional falsehoods). Prior to and during his proffer meetings, Mr. Manafort was well aware that the Special Counsel’s attorneys and investigators had scrutinized all of his electronic communications. Indeed, it is important to note that Mr. Manafort voluntarily produced numerous electronic devices and passwords at the request of the Government.

Manafort and his lawyers said in closing that if Mueller has witness statements that demonstrate Manafort’s “intentional falsehoods” these “should be produced to the defense” so they can be reviewed. After that, the defendant “would then suggest that the issues be narrowed during the usual sentencing process in the parties’ submissions to the U.S. Probation Office in the preparation of the PSR.”

You can read that document in full below.

Manafort responds to Muelle… by on Scribd

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.