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Judge finds Manafort lied to investigators in Russia probe

AP  |  Washington 

Former Trump intentionally lied to investigators and a federal grand jury in the special counsel's probe, a ruled Wednesday.

US Amy Berman Jackson's decision was another loss for Manafort, a who rose to lead Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and now faces years in prison in two criminal cases brought in Robert Mueller's investigation.

The four-page ruling hurts Manafort's chance of receiving a reduced sentence, though Jackson said she would decide the exact impact during his sentencing next month.

It also resolves a dispute that had provided new insight into how Mueller views Manafort's actions as part of the broader probe of Russian election interference and any possible coordination with Trump associates.

Prosecutors have made clear that they remain deeply interested in Manafort's interactions with a man the FBI says has ties to

But it's unclear exactly what has drawn their attention and whether it relates to election interference because much of the dispute has played out in secret court hearings and blacked out court filings.

In her ruling Wednesday, Jackson provided few new details as she found there was sufficient evidence to say Manafort broke the terms of his plea agreement by lying about three of five matters that prosecutors had singled out.

The ruling was largely a rejection of Manafort's attorneys' argument that he hadn't intentionally misled investigators but rather forgot some details until his memory was refreshed.

The found that Manafort did mislead the FBI, prosecutors and a federal grand jury about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, the co-defendant who the FBI says has ties to

Prosecutors had accused Manafort of lying about several discussions the two men had including about a possible peace plan to resolve the Russia-conflict in Crimea.

During a sealed hearing last week, Mueller said one of the discussions an Aug. 2, 2016, meeting at the cigar bar in went to the "larger view of what we think is going on" and what "we think the motive here is."

"This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the is investigating," Weissmann said, according to a redacted transcript of the hearing.

He added: "That meeting and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the " The meeting occurred while Manafort was still in a high-ranking role in the Trump campaign.

Rick Gates, Manafort's longtime deputy and also a Trump campaign aide, attended. And prosecutors say the three men left separately so as not to draw attention to their meeting.

Weissmann said investigators were also interested in several other meetings between Kilimnik and Manafort including when Kilimnik traveled to for Trump's inauguration in January 2017.

And Manafort's attorneys accidentally revealed weeks ago that prosecutors believe Manafort shared polling data with Kilimnik during the 2016 presidential campaign.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 07:15 IST