Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Mueller Focusing On Manafort Meeting With Russian Partner In 2016: Court Filing

Mueller Focusing On Manafort Meeting With Russian Partner In 2016: Court Filing

Previous court documents have revealed that one of the topics discussed by Manafort and Kilimnik was a possible peace plan to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Crimea. And a new transcript of closed-door hearing in the case released Thursday exposed stunning new details about the Mueller team's thinking and its progress in the investigation. Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama said Thursday's session in the Oval Office was "the most positive meeting I've had in a long time" and that the president was "very reasonable".

In addition to the August 2, 2016 meeting, which took place at the Grand Havana Club, a cigar bar in Manhattan, Manafort and Kilimnik also discussed the Ukraine-related issue in December 2016 and twice in early 2017, according to the transcript.

Under his plea deal, prosecutors have only to show that their determination Manafort breached his deal was made in "good faith", which Manafort's attorneys have conceded.

After President Donald Trump's former Campaign Chair Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 counts of federal criminal charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he chose to try his luck and avoid a second trial by becoming a cooperating witness in the Russian Federation investigation.

According to the transcript, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said the substance of the meeting, which took place in NY just weeks after the Republican National Convention, goes to the "larger view of what we think is going on" and what "we think the motive here is".

Manafort's hopes for a pardon was one of several revelations in the 142-page transcript of a sealed hearing.

Manafort, who was convicted of financial crimes by a jury in a separate case in Virginia in August, has said any inconsistencies in his statements to prosecutors and the grand jury were not intentional. Kilimnik, who was also indicted in the Manafort case but has been beyond the reach of USA law enforcement, has been described by prosecutors as someone with ties to Russian intelligence. Gates also spoke to investigators about Manafort sharing the polling data, according to the transcript.

Weissmann also noted that at the August 2016 meeting of Kilimnik, Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates took pains to leave separately - at a time when contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation were of utmost interest.

At the hearing, Weissmann also said that prosecutors believe that Manafort was lying about a $125,000 payment. This, quite directly, implies that Trump has an interest in one of his former aides engaging in a criminal cover-up - a circumstance that is hard to imagine unless the president himself is at least indirectly implicated in criminal behavior.

They disclosed that Kilimnik traveled to Washington for Trump's January 2017 inauguration and met with Manafort. The New York Times has reported the payment involved Manafort's use of money from a pro-Trump political action committee to help pay his legal bills.

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