Federal prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller say that Paul Manafort lied to investigators, according to a court filing on Monday. In the filing, prosecutors allege that Manafort "committed federal crimes" which included lying to the FBI and the special counsel's office on a number of matters. If this is true, it will constitute a breach of Manafort's plea agreement. As a result, the special counsel is asking a judge to sentence Manafort for jail time.
Manafort agreed to a plea deal with Mueller's team in September. Under the terms of the deal, Manafort would plead guilty to charges related to "conspiracy involving money laundering, tax fraud, failing to report foreign bank accounts, violating rules requiring registration of foreign agents, lying and witness tampering," per CNBC. In exchange, he agreed to cooperate with the government regarding Mueller's investigation of Russian collusion in the 2016 election, and would receive a lesser jail time as a result of the plea deal.
According to the filing, Manafort's team denies any wrongdoing and "believes he has provided truthful information" to the government throughout the investigation. Bustle reached out to Manafort's legal counsel for comment, and spokesperson Jason Maloni referenced the court filing.
The special counsel's office has not provided any specifics regarding Manafort's alleged dishonesty, but it has confirmed that it will provide details at an undisclosed later date. Per CNN, this news is especially astonishing given how large of a role Manafort was believed to have been playing in Mueller's Russia probe.
Manafort, who used to be Trump's campaign chairman, has met with Mueller's team at least nine times. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he cannot withdraw his guilty plea, but his sentencing and resulting jail time could be greater after this court filing. According to The New York Times, Manafort will likely receive a decade-long prison term for 10 felony counts, two of which he already pled guilty to as a part of his plea agreement.
This latest news about Manafort comes amid recent reports that Mueller was writing his final review of his lengthy investigation on the 2016 election meddling and possible involvement of the Trump campaign with Russia. According to CNN, the final part of the investigation (Trump's legal team providing written answers to questions Mueller gave to POTUS) began in early November.
Additionally, multiple sources confirmed to CNN that Trump's legal team would have the answers to Mueller's team by the end of the month. There's been no public decision about an in-person interview between Mueller and Trump as of yet.
In a news conference earlier in the month, Trump reiterated his disapproval of the entire investigation. He said, "It's a disgrace... it should have never been started because there was no crime."
Then, on Nov. 26, Trump posted a multi-tweet tirade against the Mueller probe, claiming that many of his 2016 election officials had not spoken to Mueller's team. Trump wrote, "So many campaign workers, people inside from the beginning, ask me why they have not been called (they want to be). There was NO Collusion & Mueller knows it!"