Paul Manafort has "breached" his plea agreement with the Justice Department by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller's office two months after he started to cooperate in the Russian Federation probe, prosecutors alleged Monday.
"If Mueller's team files a public document outlining his lies, then we will know what those lies were", he said. Mueller had delayed to see how well Manafort cooperated. With the end of the midterm elections, speculation mounted that Manafort might deliver information that could lead to charges against others in Trump's circle. He was previously convicted on bank and tax fraud charges following a late summer trial in Alexandria, Virginia.
Manafort said in the same filing on Monday that he disagreed with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's assertion that he had lied, but both sides agreed the court should move ahead and sentence him for his crimes.
Instead, the document laid bare the differences between two sides who have met repeatedly since Manafort entered his guilty plea on September 17 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
The filing was an astonishing break from the bare-bones updates given by the special counsel's office in other cases where cooperators continue to help Mueller pursue Russian interference in the 2016 United States election and alleged coordination with the Trump campaign.
The only reasonable explanation as to why Manafort would decide not to cooperate with Mueller, thus ensuring that his criminal sentence is much longer in length - perhaps one that amounts to a life sentence, given that Manafort is 69-years-old - is that he is now relying on a presidential pardon.
Manafort's team, however, said he "believes he has provided truthful information and does not agree with the government's characterization or that he has breached the agreement". Under the plea deal, he faces as many as 10 years in prison in the Washington case.
A federal judge rejected his appeal to delay his prison term while he waited for an appeals court to rule whether the Mueller appointment was constitutional. So the question is: "What was he hiding that is worse than going to jail for the rest of your life?" said Joyce Vance, a professor of law at the University of Alabama law school and former federal prosecutor.
Trump is, without mentioning names, seemingly playing Manfort and others off to be victims and "heroes" for "refusing to lie", while also calling Mueller "conflicted" and saying he has "gone rogue". Prosecutors said Gates, who also pleaded guilty, is cooperating in "several ongoing investigations".