Mueller says Trump’s ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort lied about Russian contact
This story will be updated.
Prosecutors say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about his contacts with a Russian associate and Trump administration officials.
The disclosures were made in a court filing Friday evening, one of two filed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller. The filings appeared to unveil new details of his probe into the two key former Trump associates Manafort and Michael Cohen.
Prosecutors say Manafort violated his plea deal by telling “multiple discernible lies.”
They say Manafort told investigators that he spoke with officials before and after they left the Trump administration. But they say a review of his electronic documents shows he had “additional contacts” with the officials.
Meanwhile, a second memo said, Trump’s former legal fixer Cohen was fielding outreach from Russians seeking to reach the Trump campaign as far back as 2015.
The filings appeared to add damaging detail to concerns that Russians tried to influence the 2016 presidential election and made connections to Trump’s circle of campaigners and advisors.
Court documents say former Trump campaign chairman Manafort testified before a grand jury on two occasions as part of his plea deal.
They say Manafort was called to testify before a grand jury on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. The documents do not provide any additional details about the grand jury, or what it is probing.
Manafort cut the deal in September and agreed to plead guilty to two felonies. It headed off a second trial for Manafort related to his Ukrainian political consulting and unregistered foreign lobbying.
The President unleashed a Twitter blast earlier Friday. Trump claimed Mueller’s team was tainted by conflicts of interest and stacked with Democrats. He also asked whether the final report would criticize his political nemeses such as former FBI Director James Comey and Hillary Clinton.
“Will Robert Mueller’s big time conflicts of interest be listed at the top of his Republicans only Report,” Trump wrote, before turning on the special counsel’s top lieutenant.
“Will Andrew Weissman’s horrible and vicious prosecutorial past be listed in the Report. He wrongly destroyed people’s lives, took down great companies...”
Mueller is facing a deadline to explain to a judge in Washington why he has accused Manafort, Trump’s already convicted and jailed former campaign chairman, of lying and breaking a cooperation deal.
And he must also deliver documents to a court in New York recommending whether Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, should go to jail and for how long, after Cohen turned against his former top client and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.
“A total witch hunt,” Trump said at one point, repeating his preferred moniker for the Mueller investigation.
The twin filings represent yet another dramatic moment for the Mueller investigation and are being eagerly awaited in Washington for signs of how the Russia drama will unfold in the weeks ahead and how much it may eventually hurt Trump.