On Friday, Dec. 7, the FBI Office of the Special Counsel, charged with investigating ties between the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump and Russia, filed a document the country had been waiting for: It's a memo regarding a reported breached plea agreement with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. After his guilty plea in August 2018, a plea deal between him and Special Counsel Robert Mueller fell through in September, with the latter saying Manafort had been dishonest in their conversations. Elite Daily reached out for comment on the report at the time, but did not hear back at the time of publication. And now, Mueller's sentencing memo for Manafort is providing key insight into those alleged lies.
In total, there appear to be five things Manafort is accused of allegedly lying about. Mueller alleges in the memo that Manafort lied about his communications with his former business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukranian business consultant who investigators believe has ties to Russian officials. Manafort also allegedly lied about having interactions with the Trump administration in 2018. Though it doesn't specify what those conversations were, the document mentions at least two alleged instances, one in February and the other in May:
In a text message from May 26, 2018, Manafort authorized a person to speak with an Administration official on Manafort's behalf. Separately, according to another Manafort colleague, Manafort said in February 2018 that Manafort had been in communication with a senior Administration official up through February 2018.
Elite Daily reached out to Manafort's trial lawyer for comment on the allegations that Manafort lied to the Office of the Special Counsel about Kilimnik and Trump administration contacts, but did not hear back at the time of publication. Per CNN, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said of the memo, "The government's filing in Mr. Manafort's case says absolutely nothing about the President. 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." Elite Daily reached out to the White House for further comment regarding the allegations, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Additionally, the Special Counsel's report alleges that Manafort repeatedly lied regarding another unnamed DOJ investigation and regarding a $125,000 debt payment to an unnamed firm. Elite Daily reached out to Manafort's trial lawyer for comment on the allegations that Manafort lied to the Office of the Special Counsel regarding these matters, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
This memo adds to a Nov. 27 New York Times report saying that his lawyer had been filling in President Trump's lawyers on what he'd told investigators in the Russia probe. Elite Daily reached out to representatives of Manafort and the White House for comment on the report at the time, but did not hear back.
And to pack it on even more, he's also accused of being "dishonest about some business affairs," all of which the document alleges "were not instances of mere memory lapses." Yikes. Elite Daily reached out to Manafort's trial lawyer for comment on the allegations that Manafort knowingly lied to the Office of the Special Counsel, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
For now, it's unclear how much time Manafort could be looking at for his crimes. Manafort was convicted of eight charges of financial, bank, and tax fraud in August, with a hung jury on other outstanding counts. On those counts alone, though, and two other counts he was charged with in September, he was potentially facing life in prison. He'd pleaded guilty and entered into an agreement to cooperate with Mueller's team shortly thereafter, but the deal later fell through; in late November, Mueller's office accused Manafort of violating the agreement by making false statements to the FBI during the investigation. He'll be sentenced for his crimes on March 5, 2019, per CNBC.
To add to the drama, the Supreme Court on Thursday made clear that they didn't intend to change the nation's long-standing double jeopardy rule, holding that a federal trial doesn't preclude a state trial for the same crime. For Manafort, this means that even if he was exonerated by a presidential pardon, as MSNBC's Kyle Griffin notes in a Dec. 6 tweet, it doesn't mean he's off the hook for being tried at the state level.
Manafort was one of a few Trump campaign members to be indicted by Mueller, along with aide George Papadapoulous and Manafort's business associate Rick Gates. Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn was also caught up in the Mueller probe's net, which has to date lodged well over 30 indictments and plea deals. And it's been a busy month for the special counsel's office.
On Nov. 29, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about details of a negotiation to build to a Trump Tower Moscow. Then on Dec. 4, Mueller's office also released the sentencing memo for Flynn, a document that contained an usual amount of redactions, signaling that the former general might be cooperating on matters which the special counsel doesn't want to make public. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment about the sentencing memo, but did not hear back in time for publication.
It's heating up and it's not looking good, is what I'm saying. Stay tuned for how this drama unfolds.