Judge describes why she believes Manafort lied

A federal judge revealed more about her reasoning in finding Paul Manafort had lied about his contacts with his Russian associate and that Konstantin Kilimnik was pertinent to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for multiple reasons, according to a newly released redacted transcript Friday of a sealed court hearing earlier this week.

During the hearing, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that Manafort had “intentionally” lied to the federal government by saying he had ended a discussion he and his colleague Kilimnik had in August 2016 over an issue that appears to relate to Ukraine and sanctions.

Manafort’s “concessions comes in dribs and drabs, only after it’s clear that the Office of Special Counsel already knew the answer,” Jackson said. “Again, it’s part of a pattern of requiring the Office of Special Counsel to pull teeth; withholding facts if he can get away with it.”

Jackson acknowledges that whether or not Kilimnik was a Russian spy, as prosecutors have suggested, he’s still significant to the Mueller investigation because he was a link between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, which Mueller was tasked to investigate.

Jackson said many of Manafort’s lies revolved around his “relationship or communications” with Kilimnik. “This is a topic at the undisputed core of the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation,” she said. (Jackson said she couldn’t determine if he was a spy because she hadn’t been given evidence on it.)

Prosecutors previously alleged that Kilimnik had ties to the Russian military intelligence service the GRU, while the defense team argued that was not significant because he was also in touch with the US State Department.

“The intelligence reference was just one factor in a series of factors the prosecutor listed,” Jackson said.

Jackson also appears to think that Mueller’s office knows of additional contacts Manafort had with the Trump administration in 2017 and 2018 — another topic they discussed at the hearing — outside of the interactions prosecutors alleged he had lied about. The judge decided he didn’t intentionally mislead the prosecutors about contact he may have sought with administration officials.

“If there were other contacts of concern to the Office of Special Counsel, as counsel seem to allude to at the hearing, they haven’t been brought to my attention in this proceeding and they don’t bear and can’t bear on my decision,” she said.