Failed redaction reveals Paul Manafort's 'lies to FBI'

Geneva Stokes
January 11, 2019

Attorneys for Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, submitted a poorly redacted filing on Tuesday revealing that Manafort shared polling data with a Russian operative during the campaign. Although the filing does not say whether the polling information was public or what was done with it, it raises the possibility that Russian Federation might have used inside information from the campaign as part of its effort to interfere with the election on US President Donald Trump's behalf.

The unredacted filing in the District of Columbia federal court says Manafort also discussed a Ukrainian peace plan with Kilimnik, a former employee of his consulting firm who the FBI assessed as having ties to Russian intelligence.

Kilimnik has denied working for Russian intelligence.

That's according to a court filing from defense lawyers Tuesday responding to allegations that Manafort has repeatedly lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators.

Mr Mueller is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Mueller claimed on November 26 that Manafort breached that September plea deal and committed crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the special counsel's office on "a variety of subject matters". There are two known meetings during the campaign between Manafort and Kilimnik.

Although Manafort's attorneys could request an evidentiary hearing on the claim he lied to Mr. Mueller's team, they suggested the matter be addressed in a pre-sentencing report compiled by the probation office.

The redacted portions could be accessed by copying and pasting portions that are blacked out, meaning anyone with a computer could read what was meant to remain secret.

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Manafort's attorneys appeared to acknowledge that the contacts occurred, writing that their client was unable to recall "specific details" about them before having his "recollection refreshed" by the special counsel.

It also says that Manafort met with Kilimnik in Madrid and that they discussed a peace deal for Ukraine.

In a July 7, 2016 Manafort told Kilimnik that he was willing to brief Deripaska on the Trump campaign.

Manafort is expected to be sentenced in Virginia on February 8 and separately in D.C. on March 5. He declined to comment on other pieces of the filing.

Another redacted portion provides more information about alleged contacts Manafort has had with Trump administration officials.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it should: a Ukrainian peace plan has been of interest ever since The New York Times reported in 2017 that Michael Flynn, when he was national security adviser, received a Ukrainian peace plan proposal from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Manafort denies colluding with any Russians. The filing claims that the first alleged lie by Manafort was "related to a text message from a third-party asking permission to use Mr. Manafort's name as an introduction in the event the third-party met the President", which they argue "did not constitute outreach to the President". Manafort had told investigators he'd no direct or indirect contact with White House officials since Trump's inauguration, but Manafort had been in touch with officials as recently as the spring, according to the filing.

Manafort, 69, has been in jail since June 15, when U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered him locked up after Mueller accused him and Kilimnik of witness tampering. Manafort is suffering from depression and anxiety and is at times confined to a wheelchair because of gout.

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