Defense attorneys for onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort defended their client against accusations that he lied to federal prosecutors after signing onto a cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to court documents filed publicly on Tuesday in Washington D.C.
“Mr. Manafort provided complete and truthful information to the best of his ability,” Manafort’s lawyers wrote. “He attempted to live up to the requirements of his cooperation agreement and provided meaningful cooperation relating to several key areas under current government investigation.” Manafort was found guilty in August on eight counts of tax and bank-fraud in a Virginia case related in part to his work as an unregistered foreign lobbyist. Sentencing in that case – which could result in a lengthy prison term – is scheduled for next month.
In September, on the eve of a second trial in Washington, D.C., Manafort struck a plea deal with prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for “broad” cooperation.
However, prosecutors in Washington D.C. case say he reneged on that agreement by lying during interviews.
At a hearing in December, the federal judge overseeing Manafort’s case in Washington D.C. asked the government to provide some “underlying evidence” to support the scant details they’ve offered about the content of his alleged lies.
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Special counsel prosecutors and attorneys for Manafort agreed in court to conduct informal discussions about the alleged lies before defense counsel responded. At the time, Manafort’s team said they did not have enough information from the government about their client’s alleged lies to reply.
Since leveling that accusation, prosecutors have filed a heavily-redacted court document describing five areas in which Manafort is accused of lying to government investigators, including misleading statements about his contacts with Trump administration officials. He was also accused of lying about his interactions with a longtime business associate whom the special counsel has identified as a former Russian intelligence officer, about financial transactions, as well as about information the special counsel described only as “pertinent to another department of Justice investigation.”
Those alleged lies amounted to a breach of Manafort’s plea agreement, prosecutors said.
Manafort is scheduled for sentencing in the Washington, DC, case on March 5. But speculation that President Trump may consider pardoning his onetime campaign chairman has grown.
In November, asked by the New York Post about a possible pardon for Manafort, Trump said he “wouldn’t take it off the table.”