Mueller: Manafort lied to investigators about funds, contacts

Special counsel says Trump's ex-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, told multiple lies after agreeing to plea deal.

    On Friday, Mueller detailed multiple 'lies' that former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort told investigators, leading to a termination of his cooperation deal [File: Mandel Ngan/AFP]
    On Friday, Mueller detailed multiple 'lies' that former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort told investigators, leading to a termination of his cooperation deal [File: Mandel Ngan/AFP]

    US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, lied to federal investigators about a payment and contacts with Trump administration officials, the special counsel investigating whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia said in a court filing on Friday.

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office submitted the filing to a US District Court judge in Washington, DC who had asked for more details on Mueller's allegations last month that Manafort had breached a plea agreement by lying.

    "In his interviews with the Special Counsel's Office and the FBI, Manafort told multiple discernible lies - these were not instances of mere memory lapses," Mueller's office said in the heavily redacted court filing.

    According to the filing, Manafort lied about his interactions with Russian-Ukrainian political consultant Konstantin Kilimnik, his efforts to tamper with witnesses, the circumstances surrounding a $125,000 payment to a firm working for Manafort, and Manafort's contacts with officials in the Trump administration.

    Manafort also provided investigators with shifting accounts about information relevant to another Department of Justice investigation.

    The filing said that Manafort, who maintains he has been truthful to Mueller, appeared before a grand jury twice.

    Manafort, a veteran Republican consultant who led Trump's election campaign for several months in 2016, has been convicted on charges mostly related to his work for pro-Moscow politicians in Ukraine between 2004 and 2014.

    Cohen memo

    Separately on Friday, the special counsel said that Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was in touch as far back as 2015 with a Russian who offered "political synergy" with the Trump election campaign.

    Filings by prosecutors from both New York and the Trump-Russia special counsel's office laid out for the first time details of the cooperation of Cohen, a vital witness who once said he'd "take a bullet" for the president but who in recent months has become a prime antagonist and pledged to come clean with the government.

    In hours of meetings with prosecutors, Cohen detailed his intimate involvement in an array of episodes, including some that directly touch the president, that are at the centre of investigations into campaign finance violations and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

    Trump has called Mueller's investigation into the suspected collusion between Russia and his 2016 election campaign a "witch-hunt" and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. 

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Friday that the filings relating to both Cohen and Manafort show nothing new. 

    After the filings were made public, Trump tweeted, "Totally clears the President. Thank you!"

    The new developments came just hours after Trump announced he had chosen former US Attorney General William Barr to once again lead the Justice Department, a role that would put him in charge of the Mueller's probe into Russian election interference. 

    If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would succeed Jeff Sessions, who was forced out by Trump last month. Sessions's chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, is currently serving as acting attorney general.

    SOURCE: News agencies