Mueller filing: Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration officials

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team wrote in a heavily-redacted Friday court filing that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement by making false statements to federal investigators, including about his contact with Trump administration officials as well as information pertinent to an undisclosed Justice Department investigation.

“The defendant breached his plea agreement in numerous ways by lying to the FBI and Special Counsel’s Office,” the filing said.

Mueller’s team accuses Manafort of lying about five issues: Manafort’s contact with administration officials; information “pertinent to another Department of Justice investigation”; his interactions with Russian-Ukrainian political consultant Konstantin Kilimnik; his comments about Kilimnik’s alleged participation in a conspiracy to obstruct justice and a wire transfer to a firm working for Manafort.

Prosecutors said that Manafort claimed after signing the plea agreement in September that he had no direct or indirect communications with anyone in the administration. But Mueller’s team said the “evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts.”

The filing said a Manafort colleague said Manafort had claimed to have been in communication with a “senior administration official” through February 2018. It also cites a May text exchange where Manafort authorized someone to speak with an administration official.

“A review of documents recovered from a search of Manafort’s electronic documents demonstrates additional contacts with administration officials,” it reads.

The White House responded to the filing by distancing itself from Manafort.

“The government’s filing in Mr. Manafort’s case says absolutely nothing about the president," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "It says even less about collusion and is devoted almost entirely to lobbying-related issues. Once again the media is trying to create a story where there isn’t one.”

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News the memos show prosecutors “have nothing" on the president and "we are very happy about it."

Manafort's defense team, which has rejected prosecutors' claims that he violated the terms of the plea agreement, will have two weeks to respond to Mueller's Friday filing.

Manafort, in September, pleaded guilty in federal court as part of a plea agreement that involves cooperation with Mueller and allows him to avoid a second trial. He had been facing seven counts of foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering in federal court in Washington.

In August, Manafort was convicted on several bank and fraud charges in a separate Virginia federal case in August overseen by Judge T.S. Ellis III. A sentencing date of Feb. 8 has been set in that case.

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Friday's filing references another “DOJ investigation,” while redacting details about that probe. It claims Manafort changed his version multiple times when providing information pertinent to that investigation.

A source told Fox News that the investigation in question likely refers at least in part to Tony Podesta, a Democratic lobbyist and brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Tony Podesta, co-founder of one-time lobbying powerhouse The Podesta Group, was offered "use immunity" by Mueller this past summer to testify against Manafort in a scheduled Washington D.C. trial. Manafort avoided that prospect by pleading guilty this past September and vowing to cooperate with the Mueller probe, a promise the special counsel says he broke by lying to investigators.

Much of the information in the filing about Manafort’s interactions with Kilimnik are redacted. But it faults him for denying that Kilimnik was part of a “criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice by reaching out to two witnesses to tailor their testimony to a false narrative” that would exculpate them of a Foreign Agents Registration Act violation. Prosecutors said Manafort later “conceded that Kilimnik had conspired with him.”

The filing also accuses Manafort of lying about a $125,000 payment made toward a debt incurred by Manafort to a firm working for him in 2017.

The Mueller filing included numerous redactions because it includes "factual material that relates to pending investigations or uncharged individuals," prosecutors said.

The filing accuses Manafort of telling "multiple discernible" lies that "were not instances of mere memory lapses."

"If the defendant contends the government has not acted in good faith, the government is available to prove the false statements at a hearing," the prosecutors said.

The Manafort filing came as federal prosecutors on Friday also recommended a “substantial term of imprisonment” for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, saying his efforts to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller were “overstated.”

Fox News’ John Roberts, Bill Mears, Jake Gibson and Gregg Re contributed to this report.