The ex-campaign leader of US President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, has lied to the conviction of a court FBI federal police. Manafort had thus violated a cooperation agreement with Russia special investigator Robert Mueller, a federal judge ruled yesterday in Washington.
Manafort entered into a cooperation agreement with Mueller last September. He pleaded guilty to a plot against the US and the judiciary and agreed to cooperate with the investigators. In return, the prosecutors dropped several other charges. This threatened the ex-lobbyists only a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment.
Pledge mitigation invalid
Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson now judged, however, that Manafort had „lied“ to the investigators about his contacts with the Russian Konstantin Kilimnik, who, according to the US investigators, has close contacts with the Russian secret service. He also lied for a clandestine payment to a law firm. This leaves Mueller’s team no longer bound to the agreement, including the commitment to mitigate the penalty, Jackson said. Mueller’s investigators suspect that Manafort lied to them to protect Trump – and thereby improve his chances of being pardoned by the president later.
Manafort had led Trump’s campaign team for two months. He was forced to leave the post in August 2016 following reports of alleged cash flows to him from surrounding pro-Russian ex-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich. In connection with his previous lobbying activities in the Ukraine, Manafort was also taken in hand by Mueller.
Last August, the former lobbyist was found guilty in a first trial of tax fraud and bank fraud related to his work in Ukraine. The following month, he entered into the cooperation agreement with Mueller to avoid a second trial.
Since May 2017, Mueller is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign in favor of Trump and possible collusion between the Trump team and Moscow. The US president has repeatedly criticized Mueller’s investigations sharply and called it „witch hunt“. Trump vehemently denies any illegal collusion with Russia.