Mueller: Plea Deal 'Breached' by Manafort Lying to FBI, Special Counsel

Paul Manafort departs Federal District Court for a hearing April 19, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort violated his plea deal by lying to investigators after the agreement was struck, according to a new court filing today from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

In August, Manafort was found guilty in Alexandria, Va., on five tax fraud charges, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. He’s due to be sentenced in February.

In September, questioning of potential jurors had started in the D.C. Circuit for Manafort’s next trial on seven counts of conspiracy, witness tampering and lobbying violations in respect to working on behalf of a foreign government when he agreed to a deal to avert the second trial.

Manafort pleaded guilty to two counts: conspiracy against the United States including money laundering, tax fraud, operating as a foreign agent in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying to federal investigators; and witness tampering during his pre-trial release period.

Prosecutors said at the time that “no additional criminal charges will be brought against the defendant for his heretofore disclosed participation in criminal activity” and pledged to drop remaining counts “at the time of sentence or at the completion of his successful cooperation, whichever is later.”

According to court documents, Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller “in any and all matters as to which the government deems the cooperation relevant.”

That cooperation includes debriefings by law enforcement and government attorneys without his counsel present, turning any relevant documents over to the government, and testifying “at any proceeding” as the government requests. The agreement noted that, when it came time for sentencing, Mueller would let the court know how much Manafort did or did not cooperate.

In a status report filed today in the D.C. Circuit, Mueller noted that the plea agreement required his “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” cooperating with the government.

“The plea agreement provides that if the defendant fails to fulfill completely ‘each and every one’ of his obligations under this agreement, or ‘engages in any criminal activity prior to sentencing,’ the defendant will be in breach of the agreement,” Mueller’s filing continued. “A breach relieves the government of any obligations it has under the agreement, including its agreement to a reduction in the Sentencing Guidelines for acceptance of responsibility, but leaves intact all the obligations of the defendant as well as his guilty pleas.”

“After signing the plea agreement, Manafort 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.”

The special counsel said “the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the plea agreement” would be detailed in the forthcoming sentencing submission. “As the defendant has breached the plea agreement, there is no reason to delay his sentencing herein.”

The filing also includes the view from the defense: “After signing the plea agreement, Manafort met with the government on numerous occasions and answered the government’s questions. Manafort has provided information to the government in an effort to live up to his cooperation obligations. He believes he has provided truthful information and does not agree with the government’s characterization or that he has breached the agreement. Given the conflict in the parties’ positions, there is no reason to delay the sentencing herein, and he asks the Court to set a sentencing date in this matter.”