UPDATE: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ruled that Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors and breached his plea agreement, meaning the special counsel no longer has to abide by that agreement which could have shortened Manafort's prison time when he faces sentencing March 13th.
... Berman Jackson said that Manafort "intentionally made multiple false statements to the FBI, the (office of special counsel) and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation."
Prosecutors agreed to consider recommending leniency for Manafort based on his cooperation. Now Judge Amy Jackson has found Manafort intentionally lied about payments to a law firm and his interactions with a business associate the FBI has linked to Russian intelligence services. Manafort now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison. He will be sentenced March 13.
From the judge's order:
Based upon its consideration of the entire record and the arguments of counsel at the hearing of February 4, 2019, for the reasons stated on the record at the continuation of the sealed hearing on February 13, 2019, the Court made the following additional findings:
OSC has established by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant intentionally made false statements to the FBI, the OSC, and the grand jury concerning the payment by Firm A to the law firm, a matter that was material to the investigation. See United States v. Moore, 612 F.3d 698, 701 (D.C. Cir. 2010).
OSC has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that on October 16, 2018, defendant intentionally made false statements concerning Kilimnik’s role in the obstruction of justice conspiracy.
OSC 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.
OSC has established by a preponderance of the evidence that on October 5, 2018, the defendant intentionally made false statements that were material to another DOJ investigation.
OSC has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that on October 16, 2018, defendant intentionally made a false statement concerning his contacts with the administration.
Paul Manafort is back in court today as Judge Amy Berman Jackson is getting ready to decide whether Trump's campaign chairman lied to prosecutors in breach of his plea agreement. Manafort's defense team continues to insist their client did not lie.
From their post-hearing memorandum submitted to the court:
Based upon the pleadings, the record, and the proceedings before the Court at the sealed hearing, the OSC has not sustained its burden of proof to establish that Mr. Manafort lied during his interviews or grand jury appearances. Importantly, given the breadth of the interviews and the very small number of issues raised by the OSC as problematic, all of which relate to immaterial matters, there is no basis to find Mr. Manafort lied.
The special counsel has accused Manafort of breaching a plea deal when he repeatedly lied about a range of communications, including outreach to an associate allegedly linked to Russian intelligence. But Manafort’s team insists that prosecutors are putting nefarious spins on their client’s honest memory failings.
Mueller’s team has accused Manafort of making misstatements in five different areas, including his contacts with the Trump administration and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian national and longtime associate who the special counsel has also charged with witness tampering.
At a closed-door hearing last week, deputy special counsel Andrew Weissman told Jackson that Manafort’s interaction with Kilimnik goes “very much to the heart” of Mueller’s broader mandate to examine Russian influence on the 2016 campaign.
Pushing back on Mueller’s interpretation of the Grand Havana meeting, Manafort’s attorneys argued Wednesday that their client told Kilimnik at the meeting that the Ukraine peace plan idea “was crazy and the discussion ended.”
But they dispute Weissmann’s characterization from last week’s hearing that Manafort had stated the Ukraine peace plan “never came up again” after that August meeting at the Grand Havana. Instead, they point to FBI notes summarizing interviews with Manafort when he said the “discussion ended,” not that it “never came up again.”
“There is no evidence to support the [office of special counsel’s] speculation that Mr. Manafort had a secret ‘plan’ from the outset to hide subsequent meetings with Mr. Kilimnik,” Manafort’s lawyers added.
... Manafort’s lawyers pushed back Wednesday on what it described as Mueller’s “faulty narrative.” They added that the special counsel “reaches both far afield and into the future (long after the defendant was forced to leave the 2016 presidential campaign) to argue that a draft Ukrainian benchmark survey (poll) that was never conducted, involving a potential client that Mr. Manafort ultimately rejected, is the smoking gun.”
“Even if there was any relevance or materiality to this issue given that, at this point, Mr. Manafort has no ties to the presidential campaign or the new administration, the government’s assertion (and thus its theory) is based on semantics,” the Manafort lawyers argued.