Prosecutors Told Judge That Manafort Might Have Lied in Hopes of a Pardon – The New York Times
“You see Mr. Manafort changing his story so as not to implicate” others, Mr. Andres told the judge.
Mr. Manafort’s lawyers have argued that Mr. Manafort never deliberately lied, but only inadvertently misstated certain facts. In at least one case, Judge Jackson seemed sympathetic to that argument. She pointed out that Mr. Manafort had corrected himself in the very same session, asking, “Why would this be something that we would characterize as the crime of making an intentionally false statement?”
But the judge seemed to consider other statements by Mr. Manafort to be more seriously misleading. And the prosecutors argued that Mr. Manafort misstatements were not minor at all, but had bearing on continuing criminal investigations.
They said that Mr. Manafort had tried to obfuscate the truth about his use of $125,000 from a pro-Trump political action committee to pay his legal bills during criminal investigations that ultimately led to his conviction for 10 felonies, including tax fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy. Mr. Weissmann described that arrangement as “to put it charitably, a scheme,” and that Mr. Manafort lied to hide knowledge of it.
He stressed that information about that element of the case, apparently involving suspected kickbacks from the political action committee, was being kept secret — a hint that a criminal inquiry is continuing.
The prosecutors also suggested that they are continuing to look into Mr. Manafort’s dealings with Mr. Kilimnik. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik maintained ties both during the five months that Mr. Manafort worked for Mr. Trump’s campaign and after Mr. Manafort was fired as campaign chairman in August 2016, prosecutors said.
The special counsel’s office is claiming that Mr. Manafort lied about the number of times that he and Mr. Kilimnik discussed a plan that apparently would have eased American-led sanctions against Russia in exchange for certain concessions that Russia would make regarding Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine provoked the imposition of sanctions that the Kremlin wants lifted.
In what appears to be a reference to the peace plan, the transcript states that Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik discussed the issue at least five times: in August 2016, in December 2016, during the inauguration week of January 2017, in February 2017 and during winter 2018.
Mr. Weissmann said the Aug. 2, 2016 meeting was highly unusual given that Mr. Manafort was then busy running Mr. Trump’s campaign. “That meeting and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the special counsel,” he said.