Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Mueller eyes Manafort meeting with Russian partner in 2016 - court filing

Mueller alleges Manafort continued work related to Ukraine despite 2017 indictment Manafort May Have Lied to Boost Chance at Pardon, Mueller Says
Melinda Barton | 10 February, 2019, 15:31

A top prosecutor in the special counsel investigation into 2016 election interference has told a federal judge that a summer 2016 meeting in ny between then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a man described as a former Russian intelligence officer strikes at "the heart of what the Special Counsel's Office is investigating", a newly released court filing shows.

"The Office of Special Counsel contends that Mr. Manafort lied about the number of times they discussed it, that he and Mr. Kilimnik had not just discussed it once on August 2nd, 2016, but also in December of 2016; in January 2017, in person, in Washington, D.C., when Kilimnik was here for the inauguration; in February of 2017, including in person on [REDACTED]; and even in the winter of 2018", Weissmann said, according to the transcript.

The hearing focused on whether Manafort breached his plea agreement by lying to investigators, including about his meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence. The transcript of the hearing, which took place Monday, was released by court order Thursday, but much of it was redacted to protect the ongoing investigation, including several key portions about Manafort and Kilimnik.

Previously, Manafort's attorneys accidentally revealed that among the topics discussed by Manafort and Kilimnik during the election was a possible peace plan to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Crimea. A second sealed hearing on the matter is set for next week.

Mueller is investigating United States allegations that Russian Federation meddled in the election and whether members of the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow officials. Prosecutors allege Manafort was talking about a redacted issue related to Ukraine as late as 2018. And Weissman was also careful to note to the judge that there were certain facts he wasn't willing to reveal in court.

At one point, the prosecutor acknowledges that Manafort may have been playing for a pardon.

"This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what Special Counsel [Robert Mueller's] Office is investigating", Andrew Weissmann, one of the prosecutors on Mueller's team, told the judge, according to a transcript of the hearing. Kilimnik was indicted past year with Manafort on witness tampering charges.

Kilimnik told the Washington Post that his meeting with Manafort on August 2 was "in no way related to politics or [the] presidential campaign in the U.S".

Mueller got that information from Gates, according to the transcript.

Jackson's ruling could affect Manafort's sentencing on two felony charges stemming from illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interests. And in 2016. there is an in-person meeting with someone who the government has certainly proffered to this court in the past, is understood by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assessed to be - have a relationship with Russian intelligence, that there is [redacted].

President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort has some big problems. Trump told the New York Post at the time.