Judge asks Mueller for more info on Manafort allegations

Judge asks Mueller for more info on Manafort allegations

(CNN) – A judge on Tuesday told special counsel Robert Mueller to provide more information about the alleged lies former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told prosecutors, in violation of his plea agreement.

Manafort’s legal team wants to keep the details of his alleged lies out of public view for now.

His attorneys told a judge they haven’t decided whether they will challenge the government’s assertions, and they will continue to confer with Mueller’s team about what specific lies are being alleged and what the consequences might be for Manafort.

Prosecutors have already called off the cooperation deal, and they could potentially add more charges, given Manafort’s alleged breach.

The request from Manafort’s team to hold off on releasing specifics about Mueller’s accusations came after the judge told the special counsel’s lawyers she needs more details, beyond what was laid out in the 10-page filing from Friday.

Besides a lot of blacked-out lines, Mueller’s team specified five different subjects where Manafort lied, including meetings Manafort had with Konstantin Kilimnik, his former business associate who has ties to Russian intelligence.

He’s also accused of lying about his contacts with White House officials, up to and including in February 2018, well after he had been indicted, and in May 2018, one month before he was thrown in jail for alleged witness tampering.

While Manafort’s attorneys argued the 69-year-old has always been truthful, prosecutors argued in the papers they have the proof to back up their claims.

They cited text messages to prove Manafort’s contacts with administration officials, including a senior administration official, as well as electronic communications and travel records related to Kilimnik.

Questions of collusion have swirled around Kilimnik, given his close ties to Manafort and his links to Russian intelligence agencies that were aggressively meddling in the 2016 election.

Mueller’s team even said earlier this year that the FBI believes Kilimnik had active ties to Russian spies in 2016.

But the specifics haven’t been spelled out as to why Manafort was meeting with Kilimnik, or why he was contacting White House officials in the months after he was indicted.

Manafort has long been considered the key to several questions central to Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and the 2016 campaign.

Manafort attended that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who had offered dirt on Hillary Clinton but never delivered.

And his time on the campaign coincided with Russian hackers’ efforts to steal Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails, eventually distributing them publicly.

Manafort also was the lead on the campaign during the Republican National Convention, when the party slightly backed off its stance to provide U.S. assistance to Ukraine against Russian-backed militias.

But now, with the cooperation deal called off, prosecutors are taking off the gloves, and Manafort could even face more criminal charges.

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