So let’s talk about former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for a bit.
First of all, back in September 2018 Manafort agreed to take a plea deal. He would plead guilty to several charges of conspiracy, and he’d also cooperate with federal authorities.
He was convicted on bank and tax fraud charges, after being wrapped up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But Mueller accused Manafort in late November of lying to prosecutors with the special counsel’s office, and other Justice Department officials, in breach of his plea agreement. In a partially redacted filing last month, Mueller alleged that Manafort falsely stated that he had no direct or indirect communications with any Trump administration officials after signing his plea deal.
What we now know was happening was that Manafort was communicating with Donald Trump’s legal team, behind the scenes.
Manafort’s legal team were given until midnight on Monday to file their response to Mueller’s charges with the court. They did so, under seal.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the D.C. trial, has ordered that a redacted version of the filing be put on the public docket.
Are you curious as to what Manafort has been accused of lying about?
Prosecutors also accused Manafort of lying about meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik and his role in an alleged witness tampering scheme in which both were charged by Mueller last year. Kilimnik ran the offshoot of Manafort’s consulting business in Ukraine and is believed to have ties to Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.
It’s not really a “believed to be” situation, folks. This guy is neck-deep in Russian intelligence.
Mueller’s team also said Manafort lied about a $125,000 payment to a firm working for him. Additionally, they accused him of lying to other Justice Department officials about information relevant to an unknown investigation being conducted in another district.
I mean, there were some specific things Kilimnik was looking for from Manafort, according to investigators.
Manafort attorneys also accidentally reveal via failed redaction that Mueller says Manafort was in contact with "a third-party asking permission to use Mr. Manafort’s name as an introduction in the event the third-party met the President."
— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) January 8, 2019
When Robert Mueller first dropped these new charges on Manafort, his defense team attempted to say that their client had felt he was telling the truth, and that he’d not violated terms of his plea agreement.
Seriously. Wouldn’t you know if you were telling the truth, or not? Especially about something this concerning?
Is this the smoking gun in the Russia probe?
I wouldn’t say that. It’s just another piece of the puzzle, but the picture being crafted by Mueller’s team is growing ever-clearer, with each new day.
I’d say this is the kind of information that you tuck in your side pocket, for the time being. Given the way things are transpiring, I suspect that there is a time coming very soon, when all this is going to make perfect sense.
No, I’m not predicting President Trump in an orange jumpsuit, but I don’t think he’ll escape all of this unscathed, either.