It’s Not So Much that Manafort Lied and Lied and Lied, It’s that His Truth Evolved

Paul Manafort submitted his filing arguing that he didn’t intentionally lie when he lied repeatedly to Mueller last fall. The structure of the filing largely tracks that of Mueller’s submission last week, though it appears to have a more substantive introduction to his discussions of a peace deal with Konstantin Kilimnik, resulting this organization:

  • Payment to/from Rebuilding America Now (0-series exhibits)
  • Konstantin Kilimnik’s role in witness tampering (100-series exhibits)
  • Interactions with Kilimnik (200-series exhibits)

a) Discussions of the Ukraine Peace Deal

b) One meeting

c) Another meeting

d) A 2018 proposal

e) Manafort’s false statements (almost certainly about sharing polling data)

  • Another DOJ investigation (possibly that of Steve Calk) (300-series exhibits)
  • Manafort’s contact with the Administration (400-series exhibits)

Did Manafort change excuses for forgetting about a Ukrainian peace deal?

This filing is heavily redacted, so it’d be rash to make conclusions based on what little we can see. But it seems possible Manafort is offering a slightly different excuse for forgetting some discussions about Ukrainian peace deals than he earlier offered.

In his redaction fail filing, Manafort claimed he forgot about his discussions with Kilimnik about peace because he was so busy running Trump’s campaign.

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. 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. 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. (See Doc. 460 at 6).

I’ve observed that that’s a pretty shitty excuse for forgetting a Madrid meeting in 2017 and writing a report on a Ukraine plan in 2018.

But in this filing, Manafort seems to be arguing that he forgot about one discussion of a peace plan because he did not consider it viable, but he considered a different one viable.

During the interview, there was continual confusion when discussing [redacted] because Mr. Manafort differentiated between the [redacted] discussed at the [redacted], which Mr. Manafort did not feel would work and did not support, and [redacted]. While Mr. Manafort did not initially recall Mr. Kilimnik’s follow up contact about [redacted], after his recollection was refreshed by showing him email, he readily acknowledged that he had seen the email at the time.5

That still doesn’t seem to explain his 2018 peace plan — which he after all wrote a proposal for.

In any case, he seems to have significantly changed his excuse as the number of times he discussed Ukrainian peace plans proliferated well beyond the campaign.

Could Rick Gates make a showing?

In response to an ABJ order the government submitted a filing stating that it couldn’t say whether it would provide witness testimony Friday until after it saw Manafort’s filing.

The question of whether live testimony will be necessary to resolve any factual issue will depend on the defendant’s upcoming submission. The defense has not submitted any evidence to date. If it does not, the Court can resolve the factual issues based on the evidence submitted, drawing inferences regarding intent from that evidence, with the benefit of the parties’ arguments at the conference scheduled for January 25th. If there are material factual disputes, however, witness testimony will assist in the resolution of those issues. Finally, the government is of course prepared to proceed with witness testimony if the Court believes it will assist in resolution of the matter.

At the time, I imagined they were thinking only of the FBI Agent who submitted the declaration in the case.

But Manafort twice either reinterprets or disputes Gates’ testimony, once on whether Manafort told the truth about sharing polling data with Kilimnik.

And once (even more heavily redacted) on whether Manafort had ongoing contacts with the Administration (in an earlier filing, Manafort had claimed Mueller was relying on hearsay regarding one of its claims). So it’s possible that’s the witness the government had in mind.

That said, in the language in Manafort’s filing addressing whether addition evidence is needed, he said no additional evidence was needed.

Manafort believes that the information the Court has received, including pleadings and various exhibits, provide a sufficient factual record to allow the Court to decide the issues presented without the need for additional evidence.

Paulie still hiding the campaign finance violations

As I’ve noted before, the reason Manafort’s lies about getting a loan or whatever via Rebuilding America Now matter is that whatever the scheme entailed, it likely would have amounted to a campaign finance violation because he, the campaign manager, would have been coordinating (indeed, seemingly getting paid by!) a SuperPAC. It’s fairly clear he kept changing his story about this (though it remains clear, now, that the payment served to pay his legal fees). Ultimately, though, Manafort effectively says no-harm-no-foul because he paid taxes on the payment.

As Mr. Manafort clarified to the OSC, there was no agreement about the terms of the payment of Mr. Manafort’s legal fees. This resulted in confusion as to whether the funds amounted to a loan, income, or even a gift. In an abundance of caution, Mr. Manafort ultimately reported the amount as income on his tax returns.


Finally, the OSC claims that Mr. Manafort lied when he discussed that the payment might have been a loan. (Doc. 474 at 4, ¶7). This discussion was aimed at explaining the loan agreement, which Mr. Manafort had not remembered previously, and his continuing confusion about how the money was being treated by the payor. The uncertainty of the terms of the payment were verified by Mr. Manafort’s civil attorney and accountant.

Importantly, it should be noted that Mr. Manafort reported the payment on his own tax return as income. See Gov. Ex. 15. Further, Mr. Manafort identified that the payment came from [redacted]. Id. At bottom, then, there was no attempt to conceal the payment or the source on the income tax return that he filed with the government, and he ultimately chose to report the payment as income—the most tax disadvantageous manner in which it could have been handled.

But that entirely dodges the reason why Manafort would have wanted to obscure the relationship here in the first place, which is that if he admits it was all thought out ahead of time then the Trump campaign is exposed legally.

ABJ insists on Manafort’s presence

Having read all these filings, in unredacted form, ABJ did set a hearing for Friday morning, as she said she might do. Manafort’s lawyers asked — as they have in past hearings — for Manafort to be excused (remember, it’s a pain in the ass to get transported from the jail). But ABJ refused this request, noting,

Given the number of court appearances defendant has been permitted to waive, the significance of the issues at stake, and the fact that his being available to consult with counsel may reduce the likelihood that the defense position with respect to the issues discussed will change after the hearing, defendant’s motion is denied without prejudice to future motions.

His lawyers are now asking for permission for him to wear a suit.

It’s hard to read what she means with the minute order — aside from wanting to resolve this issue at the hearing. She clearly isn’t treating the government’s claims as a slam dunk (nor should she, considering the grave consequences for Manafort).

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

48 replies
  1. Ian says:

    “I didn’t lie.”

    “Okay, I lied about that, but nothing else.”

    “Yeah, you got me. I lied about that and that, but everything is the God’s honest truth.”

    “Oh. Yeah, I forgot about that meeting I went to sunny Madrid. Everything else I told you is true… Whaddya mean, you don’t believe me?!?”

  2. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    Oh, punaise, before I forget, you might suggest to punaisette that she check out Earthjustice (their motto is “The earthneeds a good lawyer,” in San Francisco for internships, etc. While IANAL either, my late brother was, along with being a DA and, ultimately, a judge, and my nephew (his oldest son) and his wife are both lawyers, so I have been exposed to the legal/justice system. One obscure but important item that I read recently mentioned that the Russian mob is responsible for a lot of environmental degradation and criminality in its operations. I’ll try to locate it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Anyone in the mining industry has also done that.  The Roman mines in Spain are still among the most polluted places on earth, as are those left behind by the daddy who gave William Randolph Hearst his big bucks.  (Phoebe Apperson Hearst, however, was a mom to brag about.)

      But the Russians and Chinese are heavily into quick extraction of minerals, timber, etc., not unlike a few US corporations, which has devastated the Amazon and SE Asia.

      • harpie says:

        EoH: But the Russians and Chinese are heavily into quick extraction of minerals, timber, etc., not unlike a few US corporations, which has devastated the Amazon and SE Asia.

        About ten minutes ago, I read those two names together in a Margaret Brennan tweet about what’s going on right now in Venezuela:

        4:29 AM – 24 Jan 2019 Cuba standing by Maduro. He’s still got powerful friends including the new leftist government in Mexico & UN Security Council members China & Russia. US, Canada, &@OAS_official & others support @jguaido

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          There might be any number of reasons for China, Russia, and Cuba to support the current government of Venezuela beyond a desire to be first in line for Venezuela’s oil and other resources.

          The US opposes the Maduro regime, and has long opposed leftist regimes in Venezuela and throughout Latin America, because it is heavily invested in rightwing governments and their ant-democratic priorities, their welcoming attitude toward American corporate investments, and their pliant resource extraction policies, especially regarding oil. has good coverage of Venezuela.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Phoebe had much to do with UC Berkeley, but apparently was a bit of a prude.  Sather Gate on campus was designed to have friezes of nudes but she apparently forbade their installation on modesty grounds and so they stayed in storage until about 20 or so years ago when they were finally put into place.

  3. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    Great job, Marcy–kudos to you for being able to tolerate reading, analyzing and writing about the lies within lies wrapped in more lies with equanimity. One thing on which I’d like to see more analysis is vote tampering/hacking of electronic voting systems in 2016 (and in 2018). I’m thoroughly convinced it started in the 2000 election and has continued through 2018.

  4. Cathy says:

    If Manafort’s truth evolves quickly enough, it will survive us all. At the moment its dynamic stability outperforms federal gov’t (currently 25% zombie).

  5. punaise says:

    January 23, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks! To counter the risk of hijacking a thread I will chime in later…

  6. Mitchell Matorin says:

    and the fact that his being available to consult with counsel may reduce the likelihood that the defense position with respect to the issues discussed

    That’s kind of cutting.

  7. Gnome de Plume says:

    Whenever I read a Manafort story, or the earlier one about Corsi, I have to remind myself that people really are this stupid. Did y’all happen to catch Ari Melber’s spectacle this evening with Corsi, Nunberg, Michael Caputo, and Carter Page on the same dais? It was wild. Caputo and Corsi came across as the most prickish. Has anybody checked to see that Corsi really does have a PhD?

    • Trip says:

      Corsi went to Harvard, according to Wiki. That is not a glowing endorsement of the school. Carter Page doubled down on his weasel-ness.  He used to come across more ‘bumbling space cadet’, but now he just seems to be whiny and avoiding questions at all costs.

      This was the MSNBC Jerry Springer moment. I’m not sure what Melber thought he’d get out of it. I was half waiting for the DNA to come back to prove Roger Stone is the father of all of them.

  8. Trip says:

    Great headline, hilarious too.

    I read the documents yesterday when you linked them, but I do not have your patience.

    What are you thinking the ‘loan’ is, money laundering, bribes, payment? All of the above?

  9. bmaz says:

    Friday’s hearing is going to be substantive, that much is clear. And if it is, it is more than fair to demand that the defendant be there to participate with counsel. And she so ordered. Should be fun!

    • Trip says:

      bmaz, could you explain the request to wear a suit? I thought the idea of street clothes for defendants was so that the jury wouldn’t be tainted by the appearance of someone already ‘looking like a criminal’ in jail garb. Is this just a vanity issue, since the judge knows the entire deal?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think your argument is more common before a defendant has pleaded to or been found guilty of several felonies and where continued incarceration is a dead cert. Paulie is well along in that process.

        If this is a hearing before a judge without a jury, it does not matter much if he shows up in Brooks Bros or in the traditional orange finery, except for the press photos.  I just think he needs to show up personally and face a little music for his admitted felonies.

        • Trip says:

          I didn’t really have an argument, just a very layman’s understanding of the practice, which didn’t seem to fit the circumstances here.

        • Avattoir says:

          Should it come to pass that, for all hard purposes, the presiding magistrate shalt also serve in the role of jury (that body which ‘finds the facts’ of whatever happened, for once and ever more), then ought we to acknowledge a glimpse at least, no matter how brief, of some sound basis for granting a convict’s request that she appear before the magisterium arrayed in her most pleasing raiments, or he in his most commodious reptilian epidermis.

          Moreover, this could well constitute Paulie Rugs’ last public appearance before pardon or demise. Given all we know of him, it would be the more surprising had he resiled from any effort to leave behind a favorable impression, no matter how ephemeral.

        • Arj says:

          If I had put in so much effort for so little result, I’d be inclined to resile.  Or go with the ostrich.

      • chicago_bunny says:

        It sure sounds like vanity to me.  Maybe Paulie is anticipating there will be press there, at least for some of the hearing, and he wants the courtroom sketch artist to capture how dapper he is.

        • Rayne says:

          I think he doesn’t want to look like loser on camera in front of the guy who can pardon him. Trump the malignant narcissist doesn’t want to associate with losers.

        • Rayne says:

          Although it may be equally likely Paulie is feeling a little sensitive about his ability to attract the ladies if he should be pardoned. Wonder what happened to his side piece Miss Thang? Is she waiting around for a better offer?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Reminds me of The Rock, and a line from Connery’s character that seems apropos of the crudeness and the mindset of Mr. Trump about who should benefit from his grace and favor:

          Your “best”?  Losers always whine about their best.  Winners go home and f*ck the prom queen.

        • BobCon says:

          I think it’s a sign prison has gotten to him and he’s looking for whatever tokens of humanity he can get.

          I’m fine with Judge ABJ granting the request, in the same way I’m fine with the prisoners in the federal prison who get a special Christmas meal. Manafort deserves every day in prison he got — probably more — but I don’t have a problem with him or other prisoners getting the option to wear civilian clothes to a court appearance.

        • Rugger9 says:

          OTOH, it’s easier to spot a fleeing prisoner in prison garb.  I don’t put it past the Palace minions like our BDTS running the DOJ or Kaiser Quisling to find a way to get Paulie to a safe (for them) place without further questions.

          I don’t think a dirt nap is coming but maybe Oleg / Aras / Vlad has an island where he can be exiled.

        • BobCon says:

          Manafort and Corsi, fleeing for the border in a gender reversed version of Thelma and Louise, with Victoria Toensing playing the Brad Pitt seductive grifter. At least Mueller could credibly fill the Harvey Keitel role as the relentless pursuer who is weary of the whole thing.

        • Avattoir says:

          I remain unconvinced that even a gather that silver-tongued is capable of convincing an Uber driver to steer right over a dead-drop cliff’s edge.

        • Greenhouse says:

          Even better, Manafort and Corsi fleeing for the border just like Ray Miland and Rosey Grier as the “The Thing With Two Heads”.

  10. oldoilfieldhand says:

    ABJ to Manafort:

    Please Attend your hearing on Friday, whether it suits you, or in a suit, is immaterial.

  11. Trip says:

    Marcy, an update on the Russian accused of murder for hire, money laundering, etc. Like Manafort, his attorneys argue that his health should keep him out of jail. He had a hearing on Tuesday, but I can’t find anything beyond the following reports.

    Attorneys for Russian national charged in money laundering, murder-for-hire plot want him released due to health concerns
    The government believes that Teyf is a flight risk and said he has multiple apartments, a compound in Russia and a home in Switzerland. Since December 2010, the Teyfs opened at least 70 financial accounts at four different banks, and wire transfers show money coming into the couple’s bank accounts from countries known to launder money, including Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and the Seychelles. Investigators said the Teyfs bought hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of luxury cars and more than $2.5 million worth of art.

    Another local report on bribery and violent threats:
    A businessman accused of defrauding the Russian military through a $150 million kickback scheme thwarted a criminal investigation in his home country by paying off authorities there, U.S. prosecutors said in a recent court filing. ..prosecutors argue that he has a history of violent threats, along with the means and incentive to flee. A confidential source told authorities that Teyf had asked the person to “‘take care’ of someone or put them in a hospital,” according to prosecutors, who wrote last week that he had wanted to harm an employee suspected of stealing and another person to whom Teyf owed money.

    And OCCRP and Novaya Gazeta tie him to the chef:
    Novaya Gazeta, an OCCRP partner organization in Russia, reported last month that Teyf is closely linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, “Putin’s chef” and one of 13 Russians indicted last February as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.

  12. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I mostly think that ABJ is all out of fucks to give. And I imagine that a) Paulie will be placed under oath at the hearing; b) it’ll be a closed or mostly-closed hearing because of all the redacted stuff.

    • Avattoir says:

      I’d welcome the chance to consider your reasoning for gaining that impression, because from all I’ve seen, her behavior is consistent with being thoroughly engaged in the process of facilitating the OSC ware-housing its work product in the courthouse database.

  13. Alan says:

    “The Senate intelligence committee has subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to testify before the panel in mid-February, a day after Cohen said he planned to postpone an appearance next week before Congress, MSNBC and CNN reported on Thursday.”

  14. RisingDown says:

    It seems to me Manafort long ago made the calculation that he’s not going to be fulsome in his disclosures to OSC or any other LE agency. This being further demonstration.

    I wonder if Mueller has new trials in EDVA for the previously hung charges, or before Judge Berman Jackson for violation of Manafort’s agreements, in his “backpocket” as a means to protect the larger investigation.

    Optics of shutting a further trial down would be pretty bad for Whitaker, Barr, etc. in my mind.

  15. Trip says:

    Broidy is suing everyone, too many to list.

    Ex-Republican fundraiser accuses lobbying firm of leaking hacked emails
    A lawsuit filed Thursday paints the fullest picture to date of an alleged Qatari government conspiracy to hack the former GOP official’s email.
    His new lawsuit, filed Thursday, names as a defendant Gregory Howard, a onetime Democratic congressional aide who worked as an agent of Qatar for the Washington communications firm Conover & Gould before taking a job with Mercury, where he now serves as a vice president. Mercury is a prominent Washington lobbying firm whose powerful clients include the conglomerate controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, on behalf of which Mercury lobbied the Trump administration to ease U.S. sanctions. Mercury also came under Mueller’s scrutiny for lobbying work arranged by former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort for a front group linked to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych…Broidy previously accused a New York-based cybersecurity firm, Global Risk Advisors, of carrying out the hack on behalf of Qatar. His new complaint adds fresh details to the accusation, alleging that the firm recruited “cyber mercenaries” to assist in the conspiracy. ..Global Risk Advisors asserted in court in California that it was shielded by sovereign immunity and a judge dismissed the firm from that suit, citing a lack of jurisdiction.

  16. Trip says:

    emptywheel says:
    January 24, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    TY. I think we knew abt the tie to Prigozhin already, which is why I took interest.

    I kinda thought so, but I don’t have the steel trap brain that you do for retention. Sometimes things from last week seem like a year ago to me.

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