Former FBI Director Robert Mueller (Photographer: Dennis Brack/Bloomberg News)

Mueller Cites Texts to Show Manafort Hid Outreach to Trump

(Bloomberg) -- Paul Manafort misled Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators and a federal grand jury when he said he wasn’t communicating with people in the Trump administration as he was under investigation, prosecutors said in a court filing.

Prosecutors on Tuesday cited a May 26, 2018, text to Manafort by someone with apparent access to President Donald Trump, who is referred to as POTUS. “If I see POTUS one on one next week am I ok to remind him of our relationship?” the person wrote. After Manafort replied, “Yes,” he added, “Even if not one on one.” At the time, Manafort was awaiting trial in Virginia on bank- and tax-fraud charges.

Prosecutors working for Mueller outlined in the filing how they say Manafort lied in five different ways after he pleaded guilty and was supposed to be cooperating with the investigation. Many of their arguments were obscured in the heavily redacted public filing.

Last week, Manafort’s lawyers inadvertently said in a poorly redacted filing that he had shared polling data during the 2016 presidential campaign with an associate tied to Russian intelligence. The filing on Tuesday makes no public reference to the polling data.

Manafort’s lawyers say their client, Trump’s former campaign chairman, didn’t intentionally mislead investigators during a dozen debriefings and two grand-jury appearances after he pleaded guilty on Sept. 14. Mueller used a 31-page filing and 157 pages of exhibits on Tuesday to rebut that argument to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington.

Mueller has claimed that Manafort, a political consultant, lied about his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, who served as a translator and fixer on campaigns in Ukraine for a decade. Kilimnik has denied any ties to Russian intelligence.

The new filing says that Manafort and Kilimnik communicated between Aug. 2, 2016 -- in the middle of the presidential campaign -- and March 2018, when prosecutors say the two men attempted to tamper with witnesses. In several interviews and before grand jurors, Manafort gave “various accounts concerning his communications with Kilimnik,” including a meeting in New York.

Prosecutors referred to a series of emails, redacted in the filing, and his grand jury testimony as “proof of Manafort’s false and misleading statements.”

Manafort “stated on several occasions that he never spoke to anyone in the administration, either directly or indirectly,” the filing said. Manafort also said he “never asked anyone to try to communicate a message to anyone in the administration on any subject matter.”

Prosecutors said that “evidence demonstrates that Manafort had contacts, and tried to have contacts, through others, with the administration.”

One of the five areas that prosecutors say Manafort lied about was a Justice Department investigation that’s separate from Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. One heavily redacted section refers to a meeting Manafort had before leaving the Trump campaign on Aug. 19, 2016. It’s not clear from the public filing who Manafort met with or what the nature of the matter was.

The filing also refers to Rick Gates, Manafort’s former right-hand man who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation. Gates told prosecutors in debriefings that Manafort told him around January 2017 that Manafort was using intermediaries to “get people appointed in the administration,” according to the filing.

Gates testified as a prosecution witness against Manafort, who was convicted of bank and tax fraud. Prosecutors introduced evidence to show that Manafort tried to help a banker secure a high-level job in the Trump administration even as Manafort was seeking loans from the bank.

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