Judge in Mueller case rules that Manafort lied to investigators — including about an issue at the 'heart' of the probe
Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has shown that Paul Manafort, who served as President Donald Trump's campaign chair, lied to investigators after agreeing to plead guilty to charges in the Russia probe.
The ruling nullifies the agreement from Mueller to give Manafort leniency, even while Manafort's guilty pleas remain in effect.
Judge Jackson cited Manafort's lies about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant who the FBI says has ties to Russian intelligence, as being of particular interest.
The special counsel "has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant intentionally made multiple false statements to the FBI, the OSC, and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation: his interactions and communications with Kilimnik," the ruling said.
These interactions occurred during the 2016 campaign and after. In a transcript of a hearing released last week, a Mueller prosecutor said one topic of Manafort's Kilimnik-related lies goes to the "heart" of the Russia investigation.
Judge Jackson also found that Manafort had lied about a payment from an entity known as "Firm A" and about another DOJ investigation. Mueller's team had argued that Manafort lied about two other subject matters — his contacts with the Trump administration and a conspiracy he had already pleaded guilty to with Kilimnik — but the judge did not find sufficient evidence to rule that these were lies.
"Effectively Amy Berman Jackson just ruled that, by a preponderance of the evidence, Paul Manafort lied about conspiring with Konstantin Kilimnik DURING the campaign and in early days of Trump Admin," argued reporter Marcy Wheeler.