January 15, 2019
(Reuters) – Paul Manafort, the convicted former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, told a business associate in January 2017 he was using middlemen to get people appointed to the Trump administration, according to a court filing on Tuesday.
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had been given until Monday by a federal court in Washington to provide evidence of his accusations that Manafort had lied to prosecutors on five subjects, which would put Manafort in breach of a plea agreement under which he was meant to be cooperating with Mueller’s probe.
The heavily redacted 188-page filing included some new details about Manafort’s communications with Trump administration officials, which continued even after he left the campaign in August 2016 due to a scandal over cash payments related to his work for pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.
In January 2017 Manafort told his former business partner Richard Gates that he was using intermediaries to “get people appointed in the Administration,” according to the sworn statement of an FBI agent working for Mueller included in the filing.
Gates, who also served on Trump’s presidential transition team, pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI and conspiracy against the United States and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.
The filing also touched on Manafort’s other alleged lies, including about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former business partner who Mueller has accused of having Russian intelligence ties. But due to heavy redactions it was unclear if the filing contained any major new revelations.
Last week, Manafort’s lawyers in court papers inadvertently disclosed that Manafort had shared polling data related to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign with Kilimnik.
The mistaken disclosure – caused by a formatting error that allowed redacted material to be viewed – triggered new concerns among legal experts and Democratic lawmakers about the extent of Manafort’s Russia ties during his time on Trump’s campaign, which included three months as chairman.
Mueller is investigating whether Russian interfered in the election and whether Trump campaign members coordinated with Moscow officials. Trump, who denies any campaign collusion with Russia, says he did not know Manafort shared the data. Russia denies interfering in U.S. elections.
In addition to the polling data revelation, the filing also showed that Mueller believed Manafort lied to prosecutors about his discussions with Kilimnik on a “Ukrainian peace plan” and a previously undisclosed meeting between Manafort and Kilimnik in Madrid. Manafort’s lawyers said any incorrect statements by him were unintentional.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has said she would review the evidence submitted by Mueller and any reply by Manafort’s team before deciding whether a hearing on the matter is necessary.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish and Rosalba O’Brien)