Paul Manafort Lied To Mueller About Russia Contacts, Judge Voids Plea Deal
Rantt Rundown, Day 755 of Trump’s presidency – Today’s top stories:
1. Judge rules Paul Manafort lied to Robert Mueller about Russia-related contacts: Ahead of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort March 13th sentencing, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has made a consequential ruling. Judge Jackson has sided with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on 3 of the 5 areas where Manafort was accused of lying to investigators. The ruling determines that Mueller has “established a preponderance of evidence” proving that Manafort intentionally lied about a $125k payment he made to an unnamed firm, matters related to another DOJ investigation, and his communications with Russian Intelligence Operative Konstantin Kilimnik. This has voided Manafort’s plea deal and will be taken into consideration at his sentencing.
This is important because last week Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor on the Special Counsel’s team, made comments that Manafort’s lies pertained to matters at the “heart” of their investigation. The reason the contacts with Kilimnik are at the heart of the probe is that it could amount to a quid pro quo of in the potential Trump-Russia conspiracy. Manafort met with Kilimnik several times, including when Kilimnik was in DC for the inauguration as well as in February 2017 and 2018. There was also the August 2016 meeting in New York, which Deputy Campaign Chairman Rick Gates also attended, where Manafort handed Kilimnik campaign polling data and discussed a Ukraine Peace plan that would lift sanctions on Russia. It’s clear Rick Gate’s cooperation is paying off for the Mueller team.
It’s unclear whether this is related to the Ukraine Peace plan Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen and associate Felix Sater worked on and reportedly delivered to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Either way, it fits within the pattern of behavior of various Trump officials who sought to implement pro-Russia policies.
Watch this story, because if it’s proven that there was an agreement for sanctions relief in exchange for help winning the election, then that would be the missing piece needed to determine if there was a criminal conspiracy. To learn more about the Trump-Russia collusion story, read our 6-minute primer outlining all of the evidence.
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