Washington: Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort intentionally lied to investigators and a federal Grand Jury in the special counsel’s Russia probe, a judge ruled, Wednesday.
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision was another loss for Manafort, a once-wealthy political consultant who rose to lead Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and now faces years in prison in two criminal cases brought in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The four-page ruling hurts Manafort’s chance of receiving a reduced sentence, though Jackson said she would decide the exact impact during his sentencing next month.
It also resolves a dispute that had provided new insight into how Mueller views Manafort’s actions as part of the broader probe of Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates.
Prosecutors have made clear that they remain deeply interested in Manafort’s interactions with a man the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence. But it’s unclear exactly what has drawn their attention and whether it relates to election interference or not.
In her ruling Wednesday, Jackson provided few new details as she found there was sufficient evidence to say Manafort broke the terms of his plea agreement by lying about three of five matters that prosecutors had singled out.
The ruling was largely a rejection of Manafort’s attorneys’ argument that he hadn’t intentionally misled investigators but rather forgot some details until his memory was refreshed. The judge found that Manafort did mislead the FBI, prosecutors and a federal grand jury about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, the co-defendant who the FBI has earlier said has ties to Russian intelligence.
Prosecutors had accused Manafort of lying about several discussions the two men had including about a possible peace plan to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Crimea.