On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that a federal judge found that Paul Manafort lied to Mueller about contacts with a Russian aide. The judge’s finding could mean that 69 year-old Manafort will likely have years added to his prison sentence for breaching his cooperation deal by lying after his guilty plea.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) went on MSNBC to talk about the judge’s findings. Schiff said that the reason Manafort lied to investigators was because he was holding out for a Trump pardon.
"Here's the @RepAdamSchiff answer that @Maddow was talking about with @Lawrence, that Manafort may have been lying because telling the truth would be so damaging to Trump that it would blow Manafort's chance at a pardon." #maddow pic.twitter.com/RqLnq289gO
— Ricardo Luke (@Lukericardo) February 14, 2019
‘I think [Manafort] clearly felt that he couldn’t maintain any possibility of a pardon if he was honest about what kind of a relationship the campaign had through him with this Russian intelligence-linked individual.’
Schiff explained that now that all those lies have been exposed in public it would be difficult for Manafort to receive a “get out of jail free” card from Trump.
Schiff went on to say:
‘A Trump pardon] certainly is a concern, because if there was ever a president to abuse the pardon power, it’s likely to be this one. I think Manafort was trying to play it both ways. He wanted to angle for a pardon with the president. At the same time, he knew he could get stiffed by the president because the president, after all, doesn’t care about Manafort or anyone else. He cares about Donald Trump.
‘And so he wanted at the same time to try to minimize his sentence and reduce his exposure there and still hold out the prospect of a pardon. But I think he clearly felt that he couldn’t maintain any possibility of a pardon if he was honest about what kind of a relationship the campaign had through him with this Russian intelligence-linked individual.’
In addition, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman of the District said Manafort also lied to the special counsel, the FBI, and the grand jury about a payment from a company to a law firm. He had characterized this as a loan repayment, and then made false statements that were material to another Justice Department investigation whose focus has not been described in public filings in Manafort’s case.
According to The Post:
‘Manafort’s actions mean Mueller’s office “is no longer bound” by the plea agreement including prosecutors’ promise to support a possible sentencing reduction for Manafort accepting responsibility for his crimes.’
Jackson will officially sentence Manafort on March 13, and could make public her reasoning about her findings as early as Friday in another filing.
The Post reported:
‘Manafort had denied intentionally lying after his plea deal and through his attorneys attributed any conflicting statements to confusion or faulty recollection.’
It has become much clearer though that what Manafort was trying to hide is dangerous for Trump. The Mueller team has said that Manafort’s lies about the frequency and substance of his contacts with Kilimnik go “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.”
In his original plea deal, Manafort agreed to cooperate “fully and truthfully” with the government and instead, repeatedly lied to investigators.
Featured image is a screenshot from YouTube