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'Unbelievable': Paul Manafort's texts with Sean Hannity revealed in court filing

'Unbelievable': Paul Manafort's texts with Sean Hannity revealed in court filing
CBS News

Texts between former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and Fox News host Sean Hannity were released on Friday as a court filing entered in Manafort's sentencing.

Manafort is currently in federal custody after he was found guilty on and admitted to multiple criminal charges, including bank and tax fraud. The charges were brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation.

In the filing, Manafort's interlocutor is referred to only as "Sean"; however, it's indicated that Sean has a TV show, and he discusses his colleagues "Geraldo" and "Jeanine," making his identity as the Fox News host clear.

The exchanges appear to begin in July of 2017 and extend to May 2018.

At one point, Hannity asked why Manafort didn't get a "sweetheart deal" like Rick Gates, his deputy campaign chair who pleaded guilty in the investigation and cooperated extensively with Mueller.

"They would want me to give up [Donald Trump] or family, especially [Jared Kusner.] I would never do that," Manafort said.

"Understand," said Hannity. "There's nothing to give up on [Trump.] What did [Kushner] do?"

"Nothing," said Manafort. "Just like I did nothing. They will want me to make up shit on both. I will never do that."

At one point in the texts, Manafort complains about the focus on a June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer who had offered election assistance. Mueller considered charging this event as acceptance of a criminal foreign campaign contribution, but he declined to do so. Kushner was involved with the meeting, along with Manafort and Donald Trump Jr.

Manafort was later found guilty on eight counts in a federal court, and he then pleaded guilty to additional charges and began cooperating with the investigators. However, Mueller's team determined that Manafort continued to lie to them, most notably about his meetings with a man believed to be a Russian spy, and the cooperation deal was nullified.

"Sean Hannity was in frequent communication with Paul Manafort. They discussed Hannity's coverage of Manafort's case and his attacks on the Mueller investigation during the time period when Manafort's home was raided and Manafort was arrested. Unbelievable," said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, upon reading the texts. "This isn't illegal. It's just a stupid move by Manafort. Prosecutors obtained the texts and could have used them against Manafort. As for Hannity, his frequent personal contact with Manafort about his coverage, which he never disclosed to viewers, demonstrates his bias."

Read the full texts here.

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