Paul Manafort may have lied his way out of a plea deal. On Thursday night, prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller said that Manafort had breached his plea agreement by lying repeatedly to them while supposedly “cooperating” with the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election.
Manafort’s legal team denies that the former Trump campaign manager lied after pleading guilty, but both sides agree that they want him to be sentenced as soon as possible. The news comes from a new filing in the court case, which pretty plainly lays out the two sides to the argument.
From the filing, a legal status report signed by both parties:
Manafort pleaded pursuant to a plea agreement that required his “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” cooperating with the government. The plea agreement provides that if the defendant fails to fulfill completely “each and every one” of his obligations under this agreement, or “engages in any criminal activity prior to sentencing,” the defendant will be in breach of the agreement. A breach relieves the government of any obligations it has under the agreement, including its agreement to a reduction in the Sentencing Guidelines for acceptance of responsibility, but leaves intact all the obligations of the defendant as well as his guilty pleas.
Essentially, you get to plead guilty and accept a lesser sentence/ be charged with less crimes, but you have to do what the Special Counsel says and not do any more crimes during the process.
Manafort, according to the government, did not meet his end of the bargain.
After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement.
This could mean a very different ending for the case for Manafort, who is facing a whole litany of charges from cheating the IRS to obstruction of justice and violating foreign lobbying laws, but that it’s also inconvenient for the Mueller investigation as well.
The court filing indicated Mueller’s team also had suffered a potential setback, after gaining access to a witness with potential knowledge of several key events relevant to the probe during his tenure with Trump’s campaign from March to August 2016, including a Trump Tower meeting attended by a Russian lawyer and the Republican National Convention.
According to the filing, the government will “file a detailed sentencing submission” before Manafort is sentenced that “sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies,” which will most likely be a pretty interesting document to read. Manafort’s team, in a much shorter portion of the status update, said that “he believes he has provided truthful information,” and doesn’t think he breached the agreement. Well it’s up to the *checks notes* judge to be the judge of that.