In another stunning turn in the investigation to determine if Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, a federal judge ruled that Paul Manafort “intentionally” lied to investigators, according to CNN. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that Trump’s former campaign manager violated the terms of his plea deal by lying to Robert Mueller’s federal investigators and a grand jury.
According to the ruling from a closed-door hearing on Wednesday, Manafort “intentionally made multiple false statements to the FBI, the (Office of Special Counsel) and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation.”
The decision confirms Mueller’s charges that Manafort lied during conversations about a wire payment and about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate who is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence. The judge also ruled that Manafort lied during a separate Department of Justice Investigation, according to Axios.
Manafort was questioned by Mueller’s team from September to November 2018 before it was determined that he was misleading investigators. On November 26, the FBI claimed that Manafort was breaching his plea deal cooperation agreement. Mueller asserted that Manafort lied on five separate occasions and Judge Jackson ruled that the prosecutor didn’t provide enough evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” to prove two of the claims — that the ex-chairman lied about his contacts with the Trump administration or about Kilimnik’s part in obstructing justice.
According to details released about the ruling, it was revealed that Mueller believes Manafort shared campaign data with Kilimnik and that he worked with Kilimnik to advance a peace plan aimed at settling the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, according to Vox, which could have resulted in the easing of sanctions on Russia. Mueller also asserts that Manafort’s legal fees were in part paid by a pro-Trump Super PAC.
BREAKING: A federal judge just ruled that Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors about his contacts with a colleague who had suspected ties to Russian intelligence—all while Manafort ran President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign https://t.co/sTcoGeJH3D— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) February 14, 2019
Manafort has already been convicted of crimes in Virginia and has entered a guilty plea for crimes in Washington, D.C. He was charged with bank fraud, false statements, lobbying, and tax violations. As part of that plea, Manafort would have received leniency during his sentencing on March 13. However, because it was determined that he was not truthful in his dealings with investigators, he may end up receiving a harsher sentence.
Manafort has served eight months in jail already, and prosecutors don’t appear to have plans to bring further charges against him at this point. His spokesperson Peter Carr declined to comment on the ruling and Manafort’s lawyers have maintained that their client didn’t lie intentionally to prosecutors.