Paul Manafort Intentionally Lied To Robert Mueller's Investigators, Judge Says The ruling from Judge Amy Berman Jackson means the prosecutors led by Robert Mueller are no longer bound by their plea deal with Manafort, onetime chairman of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Manafort Intentionally Lied To Special Counsel, Judge Says

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Paul Manafort's plea deal is off. A federal judge ruled tonight that a former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, intentionally lied to the FBI and to Robert Mueller's investigation. That violated the plea deal he reached with prosecutors before his second trial last year. We're joined now by NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Good evening, Carrie.


CORNISH: Remind us about that plea deal, and tell us what went wrong.

JOHNSON: Sure. In September 2018 just days before a jury was supposed to be selected for his trial in Washington, D.C., Paul Manafort reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors on the special counsel team. Manafort agreed to plead guilty to two criminal conspiracy charges and to cooperate with the ongoing investigation by the FBI and the special counsel.

We now know that Manafort met about 12 times with the authorities, and he testified at least two times before federal grand juries. But we also now know that this cooperation was very rocky, and both sides - both the government and Manafort's defense team - publicly acknowledge now that something very badly went off the rails. Manafort lawyers say he's an old man. He's 69 years old, in ill health and suffering from gout and been in detention since last year. Any misstatements were merely the result of failures of memory and his ill health. Federal prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller's team say Manafort intentionally lied to them.

CORNISH: What are they saying he lied about?

JOHNSON: The authorities say Manafort lied about things large and small - in total, five different categories of things, everything from a payment to a law firm that was doing legal work for Paul Manafort to his contacts with a business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI has linked to Russian intelligence services; to another unspecified ongoing criminal investigation that the Justice Department is conducting.

Tonight, Judge Amy Berman Jackson mostly agreed with prosecutors in this case ruling they had met their burden that Manafort intentionally lied about several of those five subject matters, in particular those contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, with whom Manafort had done some lobbying work in Ukraine and a guy who had been charged alongside Manafort with witness tampering in the course of this investigation.

CORNISH: Is there the sense that his lack of cooperation actually impeded the Mueller investigation somehow?

JOHNSON: We don't know exactly, Audie. A lot of these proceedings have been happening behind closed doors in secret because these investigations are ongoing. But I think it's clear that authorities would not have taken this step of getting a judge to determine that Manafort had broken up or torpedoed the plea deal unless it was somehow inhibiting their work.

We don't know whose cooperation Manafort was supposed to - whose investigations Manafort was supposed to help advance. There are multiple ongoing lines of inquiry from other people who may have done foreign lobbying alongside Paul Manafort to the central question of whether any Americans in the Trump orbit may have conspired with Russians.

CORNISH: What happens now?

JOHNSON: Manafort's going to be sentenced on March 13 by this judge, and the judge has pointed out that Manafort may be subject to additional penalties or enhancements because he actually did not fully cooperate. But that's a matter they're going to decide in papers and finally at his sentencing in Washington, D.C. on March 13.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Carrie Johnson. Carrie, thank you.

JOHNSON: My pleasure.

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