- Special counsel Robert Mueller has accused former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort of sharing polling data during the 2016 presidential campaign with an alleged Russian spy, a court filing accidentally reveals.
- Mueller also accused Manafort of lying about a text message from "a third-party asking permission to use Mr. Manafort's name as an introduction in the event the third-party met" President Donald Trump, the defense filing revealed.
- Manafort's lawyers meant for those accusations by Mueller to be sealed from public view, having blacked out sections referring to them in an otherwise public document.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has accused former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort of lying about sharing polling data with an alleged Russian spy during the 2016 presidential campaign, a new court filing by Manafort's criminal defense lawyers has accidentally revealed.
The alleged spy, Konstantin Kilimnik, is a former business associate of Manafort's who is criminally charged with working with him to try to tamper with potential witnesses against Manafort before his scheduled federal criminal trials last summer.
Mueller has previously alleged that Kilimnik has "ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016," the same year during which Manafort acted as chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign.
The defense filing also reveals that Mueller has accused Manafort of lying to Mueller about a text message from "a third-party asking permission to use Mr. Manafort's name as an introduction in the event the third-party met the President."
Manafort's lawyers meant for those accusations by Mueller, and several others, to be sealed from public view. The sections containing the accusations are blacked out in an otherwise public document filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C.
But those sections are easily viewable when the sections are copied in a word processing file, and then pasted into a new document.
Defense lawyers filed a "corrected" version of the document later Tuesday, making the redactions unviewable.
The White House, Trump's campaign and Manafort's defense lawyers did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment on the filing.
Manafort is being held without bail as he awaits sentencing for crimes related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, and to income earned from that work. The crimes predated his tenure with the Trump campaign.
The defense filing was responding to Mueller's allegations this past fall that Manafort has violated his cooperation agreement with the special counsel's office by lying to investigators.
Manafort signed that agreement last summer when he pleaded guilty on the eve of a trial in Washington, a month after being convicted in a federal trial for a related case in Virginia.
In agreeing to help Mueller, Manafort was clearly hoping to obtain leniency when he is sentenced in exchange for information he shared with the special counsel's office. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether the Trump campaign worked with Russian agents to affect the outcome of the election. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.
Mueller has not publicly disclosed details of five breaches of the plea agreement that Manafort allegedly committed.
But the defense filing Tuesday sheds light on those details when it refers to sealed parts of a previous filing by Mueller.
In another redacted section it says that, "After being shown documents, Mr. Manafort 'conceded' that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion."
"After being told that Mr. Kilimnik had traveled to Madrid on the same day that Mr. Manafort was in Madrid, Mr. Manafort 'acknowledged' that he and Mr. Kilimnik met while they were both in Madrid," the filing said.
The documents do not say when that meeting occurred.
The new filing argues that Manafort "has attempted to live up to the requirements of his cooperation agreement and provided meaningful cooperation relating to several key areas under current government investigation."
It also says that Manafort "has not made intentional misstatements." Defense lawyers suggested that the "conditions of Mr. Manafort's confinement have taken a toll on his physical and mental health," and have weighed heavily on his "state of mind and on his memory."
But the filing also says that defense lawyers are not asking a judge for a hearing on the question of whether Manafort has breached the cooperation agreement, given the fact that the special counsel's office is given deference in determining whether a defendant has fulfilled such an agreement.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is handling the case, in an order later Tuesday told Mueller to file a document laying out the "the factual and evidentiary basis of the five alleged breaches" by next Monday. Any reply by Manafort's team is due by Jan. 18, and the judge will hold a hearing on the issue Jan. 25 if she determines that a hearing is needed.
Redaction #1 (Page 5):
(See, e.g., Doc. 460 at 5 (After being shown documents, Mr. Manafort "conceded" that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion); id. at 6 (After being told that Mr. Kilimnik had traveled to Madrid on the same day that Mr. Manafort was in Madrid, Mr. Manafort "acknowledged" that he and Mr. Kilimnik met while they were both in Madrid)).
Redaction #2 (Page 5-6):
In fact, during a proffer meeting held with the Special Counsel on September 11, 2018, Mr. Manafort explained to the Government attorneys and investigators that he would have given the Ukrainian peace plan more thought, had the issue not been raised during the period he was engaged with work related to the presidential campaign.
Issues and communications related to Ukrainian political events simply were not at the forefront of Mr. Manafort's mind during the period at issue and it is not surprising at all that Mr. Manafort was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed. The same is true with regard to the Government's allegation that Mr. Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign. (See Doc. 460 at 6).
Redaction #3 (Page 7):
The Government has indicated that Mr. Manafort's statements about this payment are inconsistent with those of others, but the defense has not received any witness statements to support this contention.
Redaction #4 (Page 9):
The first alleged misstatement identified in the Special Counsel's submission (regarding a text exchange on May 26, 2018) related to a text message from a third-party asking permission to use Mr. Manafort's name as an introduction in the event the third-party met the President. This does not constitute outreach by Mr. Manafort to the President. The second example identified by the Special Counsel is hearsay purportedly offered by an undisclosed third party and the defense has not been provided with the statement (or any witness statements that form the basis for alleging intentional falsehoods).