Judge finds Manafort lied to investigators in Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) – Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort intentionally lied to investigators and a federal grand jury in the special counsel’s Russia probe, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision was another loss for Manafort, a once-wealthy political consultant who rose to lead Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and now faces years in prison in two criminal cases brought in special counsel 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 Russian intelligence. 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 on 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.

Kevin Downing, attorney for Paul Manafort, leaves the US District Courthouse in Washington, DC. – AFP