Lawyers for Paul Manafort claim former Trump campaign chairman never lied to federal investigators

Attorneys say Manafort has suffered from severe gout while in confinement, at times confining him to a wheelchair

Published January 8, 2019 2:38PM (EST)

Paul Manafort (Getty/Drew Angerer)
Paul Manafort (Getty/Drew Angerer)

Lawyers for Paul Manafort claimed Tuesday in a court filing that the longtime Republican consultant who spent five months as President Donald Trump's campaign chairman during the 2016 election,  never lied to federal investigators.

Manafort "provided complete and truthful information to the best of his ability" over the course of 12 meetings with government attorneys and federal prosecutors, according to a court filing by his legal team.

Manafort, after being convicted of various bank and tax fraud charges, had agreed last September to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into allegations of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia. However, Mueller voided the cooperation agreement with Manafort after the former campaign chairman lied to the FBI, as well as to his team, about contacts he had with Trump administration officials and his connections to Russian-linked intelligence officers two months after reaching a plea deal, according to the special counsel. Manafort was previously thought to be a star cooperator in Mueller's ongoing federal investigation.

In the court papers filed Tuesday, Manafort's lawyers claimed that "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."

The lawyers further stated that Manafort's time in solitary confinement has negatively impacted his state of mind, and he was not able to prepare for his meetings with federal prosecutors. "While his physical safety is of primary concern, it is important to note that the conditions of Mr. Manafort's confinement have taken a toll on his physical and mental health," the court filing says.

"As just one example, for several months Mr. Manafort has suffered from severe gout, at times confining him to a wheelchair. Manafort has "suffered from severe gout and is suffering, at times confining him to a wheelchair," the court papers say. "He also suffers from depression and anxiety and, due to the facility’s visitation regulations, has had very little contact with his family."

Manafort's lawyers appear to have made a mistake in the filing, allowing redacted portions to be revealed via copying and pasting the text into a new document. The botched redactions reveal that Manafort "conceded" to Mueller that he had discussed a "Ukraine peace plan" with associate Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian official who Mueller has linked to a Russian intelligence agency, "on more than one occasion," and that he was accused of lying to the government about "sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign."

The redacted sections also disclose that Manafort and Kilimnik met in Madrid. The court filing does not reveal when that meeting took place, but an unredacted section that follows highlights that it is "not uncommon, however, for a witnesses to have only a vague recollection about events that occurred years prior" and that "these occurrences happened during a period when Mr. Manafort was managing a U.S. presidential campaign and had countless meetings, email communications, and other interactions with many different individuals, and traveled frequently."

Another redacted portion provides more information about alleged contacts Manafort has had with Trump administration officials. It claims an unknown individual texted Manafort about dropping his name if the unidentified person ever met Trump. "This does not constitute outreach by Mr. Manafort to the President," a redacted line in the filing claims, while another redacted sentence says an additional identified interaction is "hearsay purportedly offered by an undisclosed third party." The lawyers argued that the alleged misstatements, "to the extent they occurred at all, were not intentional."

Manafort joined Trump's presidential campaign in March 2016 and became his campaign chairman in May. He left the campaign in August, days after the New York Times and the Associated Press published reports of his business dealings with Russia-aligned leaders in Ukraine involving millions of dollars of undisclosed cash payments and undisclosed lobbying efforts in the U.S.

Trump has previously defended Manafort in comments to reporters, saying that his former campaign manager "has nothing to do with our campaign, but I will tell you I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago."

"You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time," the president continued. "He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for many other he worked for me, what, 49 days or something. Very short period of time."

By Shira Tarlo

MORE FROM Shira Tarlo