Former Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort sent campaign polling data to an alleged Russian spy in the midst of the 2016 campaign, according to a filing by his lawyers that the government failed to properly redact.
Manafort’s lawyers strenuously pushed back against prosecutors in a memo filed under seal before a Monday night deadline – disputing the claim that he intentionally lied despite a deal to cooperate with authorities.
But due to an error, it was possible to read the memo in its entirety – including redacted material – when it was posted on a court web site.
The former Trump campaign chair also ‘conceded’ that he had discussed a Ukraine peace plan with a former employee who Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has said has ties to Russian intelligence.
The information about the substantive ‘lies’ Manafort told prosecutors were revealed in a memo where his lawyer also sought sympathy by revealing the former power operative suffers from ‘severe gout’ and is sometimes confined to a wheel chair, while suffering ‘depression and anxiety.’
Former Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort sent campaign polling data to an alleged Russian spy in the midst of the 2016 campaign, according to a filing by his lawyers that the government failed to properly redact
Scroll right to see how Manafort’s attorney’s filing revealed how he slipped secrets to an alleged Russian spy
Oops: A document filed by Manafort’s lawyers could be read in full on a court website. Blacked out portion revealed details of a dispute over what the Trump campaign chair revealed about his sharing of poll data with an alleged spy and his conversations about a Ukraine peace plan
The filing is the first disclosure of prosecutors going after Manafort, who chaired Trump’s campaign while he wrapped up the Republican nomination for president, for passing campaign information to a Russian contact.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continues to probe possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russians, and last week got a six-month extension for a federal grand jury.
One passage in the filing reveals Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing arguing that it was difficult for his client to remember things about Ukraine during the busy campaign season when he was among Trump’s top advisors.
‘Issues and communications related to Ukrainian political events simply were not at the forefront of Mr. Manafort’s mind during the period at issue and it is not surprising at all that Mr. Manafort was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed,’ according to the blacked out material in the memo.
They extended that argument to Manafort’s contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national and an individual whom Mueller has identified as having ties to a Russian intelligence service.
‘The same is true with regard to the Government’s allegation that Mr. Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign,’ according to the Manafort filing.
It provided no further information about what campaign polling he shared, or whether it was internal Trump campaign data.
Previously reported emails reveal Manafort touting his status in the campaign orbit and his desire to become ‘whole’ with debtors and a Russian oligarch who claimed Manafort owed him millions.
‘How do we use to get whole,’ Manafort wrote Kilimnik days before he was named a Trump campaign strategist, the Washington Post reported in 2017.
Team Manafort argued in an un-redacted portion: ‘It is not uncommon, however, for a witness to have only a vague recollection about events that occurred years prior and then to recall additional details about those events when his or her recollection is refreshed with relevant documents or additional information.’
But then the memo reveals another substantive dispute: what Manafort knew about a Ukrainian peace proposal that longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen eventually would hand-deliver to the White House early in the Trump administration.
Manafort and Kilimnik ‘may’ have discussed the peace plan ‘on more than one occasion,’ according to one portion that was meant to be blacked out.
The peace proposal was an effort by the non-diplomats to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory, while also dealing with sanctions that were gnawing at leading Russian figures.
‘In fact, during a proffer meeting held with the Special Counsel on September 11, 2018, Mr. Manafort explained to the Government attorneys and investigators that he would have given the Ukrainian peace plan more thought, had the issue not been raised during the period he was engaged with work related to the presidential campaign,’ according to a blacked-out portion.
The argument suggests that Manafort neglected to mention it when being questioned about it directly while negotiating the terms of his cooperation deal weeks after he was convicted on eight counts of bank fraud and tax charges.
COPY PASTE: When readers copied the document and pasted it in a file, it was possible to read the redactions that the government had imposed
Blacked out portions reveal what Manafort told prosecutors in a ‘proffer meeting’ in September of 2018
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors accuse Manafort of violating a cooperation agreement
In this handout provided by Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, Paul Manafort poses for a mugshot photo at the Alexandria Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Prosecutors say he violated a cooperation deal, which could extend his jail term at sentencing
‘Issues and communications related to Ukrainian political events simply were not at the forefront of Mr. Manafort’s mind during the period at issue and it is not surprising at all that Mr. Manafort was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed,’ his lawyers continued. ‘
The filing cites another document and notes: ‘After being shown documents, Mr. Manafort “conceded” that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion)’.
Yet another passage relates to Kilimnik, a Manafort business partner who ran his Ukraine office and is alleged to have been a Russian agent.
‘It is accurate that after the Special Counsel shared evidence regarding Mr. Manafort’s meetings and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik with him, Mr. Manafort recalled that he had – or may have had – some additional meetings or communications with Mr. Kilimnik that he had not initially remembered,’ his lawyers concede in the filing.
But the document disputes that these are ‘lies.’
When his memory got refreshed, Manafort acknowledged meeting him overseas.
NO RECUERDO: Manaford ‘acknowledged’ meeting his former employee Kilimnik in Madrid, according to the memo
Issues about Ukraine ‘simply were not at the forefront of Mr. Manafort’s mind’ while he was running Trump’s presidential campaign, his lawyers argue
Konstantin Kilimnik has been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on charges he tampered with witnesses in the upcoming Paul Manafort trial. Kilimnik has been described as a fixer, translator or office manager to Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, Manafort. But an Associated Press investigation finds documents show that he was far more involved in Manafort’s activities than had been portrayedHe helped formulate Manafort’s pitches to clients in Russia and Ukraine, including Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, to whom he was main go-between. Mueller has alleged that Kilimnik has ties to the Kremlin’s intelligence apparatus
Kevin Downing, defense attorney for former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, pushed back against prosecutors’ claims that Manafort committed ‘lies’ despite a cooperation deal
‘After being told that Mr. Kilimnik had traveled to Madrid on the same day that Mr. Manafort was in Madrid, Mr. Manafort “acknowledged” that he and Mr. Kilimnik met while they were both in Madrid,’ according to material intended to be redacted.
That meeting between Manafort and Kilimnik hadn’t been previously been made public.
Manafort recalled ‘some additional meetings or communications with Mr. Kilimnik that he had not initially remembered’ his lawyer acknowledged.
The Ukraine peace plan, which would have paved the way for the lifting of sanctions on Russia, made it to the desk of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who was fired after lying about his Russia contacts, and who is cooperating with the Mueller probe.
Cohen also is assisting prosecutors. Also involved was Felix Sater, a former senior advisor to Trump at the Trump Organization who was also revealed to have pitched his ability to help line up a Trump tower project in Moscow during the campaign.
Manafort’s lawyers argue that he has indeed been helpful.
‘He attempted to live up to the requirements of his cooperation agreement and provided meaningful cooperation relating to several key areas under current government investigation,’ they write.
His lawyers in the memo state that they are declining to seek a hearing, noting the ‘highly deferential standard’ on the government’s side. The filing says any factual disputes can be handled during Manafort’s sentencing.