Manafort lied after pleading guilty, Mueller’s team says

In exchange for his cooperation to answer questions "fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly", some of the charges against Manafort were dropped and prosecutors could have asked for a lighter prison term. If there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives (a hypothesis without any evidence in support thus far), Manafort would either have to have been part of it or known of it.

The filing was an astonishing break from the bare-bones updates given by the special counsel's office in other cases where cooperators continue to help Mueller pursue Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged coordination with the Trump campaign.

"It's bad for the overall Mueller investigation", said Patrick Cotter, a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago and former assistant US attorney in NY. Manafort's legal team will have to convince Judge Berman Jackson that Manafort offered an honest effort to comply with Mueller's team just to get a sentence within the original deal's parameters, which is now their best-case scenario.

He faced a second trial over charges of conspiracy against the acting as the unregistered agent of a foreign government, namely the Kremlin-allied regime of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort attended a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a group of Russians offering "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who lost in an upset to Trump in the vote that November.

They said he "committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel's Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement". Not only have they demolished Manafort's standing as a witness, by calling Manafort a liar they have poisoned any information the special counsel has developed through his earlier cooperation.

"Heroes will come of this", Trump said.

Manafort made a deal with federal authorities in September, a day before jury selection was scheduled to begin in Washington, D.C. He pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges that spanned dozens of alleged crimes and more than a decade, through his time as an global lobbyist and his unpaid work on the Trump campaign in 2016. He still faces a separate sentencing from a Virginia case where he was convicted of bank and tax fraud.

Trump has been vocal in his support for Manafort, lauding him as a "very good person" during the Virginia trial. The former Trump campaign chairman has met with prosecutors at least nine times, amounting to hours of discussions about what he knows.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, pointed out the "highly unusual" nature of such a claim. That would likely involve Mueller offering documents and witnesses at Manafort's sentencing hearing.

  • Joey Payne