Manafort Plea Deal Out the Window After Judge Rules He Lied to FBI, Mueller, Grand Jury
WASHINGTON -- Robert Mueller is no longer bound to honor the plea agreement with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort after a D.C. District Court judge found that Manafort lied to the special counsel, the FBI and the grand jury in violation of the terms of the deal.
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 March.
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."
In late November, Mueller's team said in a court filing that "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."
Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled today that Manafort "intentionally made false statements" in three of five matters alleged by the Office of Special Counsel: "a payment made by Firm A to a law firm to pay a debt owed to the law firm by defendant Manafort," his interactions and communications with co-defendant Konstantin Kilimnik, and another Department of Justice investigation that is not described.
"This order does not address the question of whether the defendant will receive credit for his acceptance of responsibility in connection with the calculation of the Sentencing Guidelines or how any other Guideline provision will apply to this case," the ruling adds. "Those issues, which depend on the consideration of a number of additional factors, will be determined at sentencing, after the Presentence Investigation Report has been completed, the parties have filed their memoranda in aid of sentencing, and the Court has heard argument."