Federal judge rules Paul Manafort lied: Why that's bad news for Donald Trump

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman has been found to have intentionally lied to investigators

By Matthew Rozsa
Published February 14, 2019 12:27PM (EST)
Donald Trump; Paul Manafort   (Getty/Mandel Ngan/Chip Somodevilla)
Donald Trump; Paul Manafort (Getty/Mandel Ngan/Chip Somodevilla)

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman to President Donald Trump, was found by a judge to have "intentionally" lied to investigators and thereby broken the rules of his deal as a cooperating witness.

On Wednesday evening Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort had deceived authorities about his interactions with alleged Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik, according to The Guardian. Jackson also claimed that Manafort lied about a payment he had received from a pro-Trump campaign group and about an unidentified investigation.

Jackson disagreed with Mueller's investigative team, however, on the question of whether Manafort lied about his recent contacts with officials in Trump's administration and about Kilimnik’s involvement in a conspiracy to obstruct justice for which both he and Manafort have been indicted.

Manafort is specifically accused of having deceived Mueller's team about sharing polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 presidential election. Because Manafort and Kilimnik had worked together during eastern European elections that were intended to help put pro-Russia politicians into positions of power, this detail could be damning in terms of whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. Manafort is also believed to have lied to investigators about a plan that he was working on with Kilimnik to develop a settlement involving Russia's imperialistic military campaigns against Ukraine.

Although Manafort had previously only faced up to 10 years in prison, that may change in light of the revelation that he lied to authorities. When Manafort had been convicted on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose bank accounts, he struck a plea deal that allowed him to serve a lesser sentence in return for cooperating with authorities, according to the BBC. Manafort could now face a longer sentence in light of the revelation that he did not live up to his end of that deal and work with authorities, and may even spend the rest of his life in prison.

It is known, if nothing else, that Trump himself was unhappy with the fact that Manafort had been found guilty at all, even though he had previously claimed to have had minimal interaction with Manafort. In November the president tweeted, "The Phony Witch Hunt continues, but Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue...."

Around the same time Trump's lawyer and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani told CNN that Trump had "been upset for weeks about what he considers the un-American, horrible treatment of Manafort."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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