Sealed hearing: Manafort meeting at ‘heart' of Mueller investigation

Sealed hearing: Manafort meeting at ‘heart' of Mueller investigation

Sealed hearing: Manafort meeting at ‘heart' of Mueller investigation

The transcript from a sealed hearing in Paul Manafort's case provides further insight into what special counsel Robert Mueller considers significant in his wide-ranging probe of the Kremlin's efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election and the ties between Trump associates and Russian Federation.

The role of Gates, who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller's prosecutors, emerged in a 142-page transcript of a hearing held in a sealed courtroom on February 4 in federal court in Washington.

Judging by previous court filings the topic at issue appears to be a "Ukrainian peace plan" that was reportedly aimed at lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia - long an important objective of Russian President Vladimir Putin's government.

The details came in a partially redacted transcript released Thursday. Prosecutors allege Manafort was talking about a redacted issue related to Ukraine as late as 2018. A second sealed hearing on the matter is set for next week.

Prosecutors also revealed new details about Manafort's later actions of interest to investigators.

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So, I mean, this goes to the larger view of what we think is going on, and what we think the motive here is.

At the hearing, attorneys discussed whether Manafort may have been motivated to lie in one unspecified instance "to at least augment his chances for a pardon", the transcript states.

Weissmann said at the hearing that the meeting included Rick Gates, Manafort's top deputy on the Trump campaign and in Ukraine who also has pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation, and that Gates said the men left separately using different exits than Kilimnik.

Kilimnik, who was indicted past year on charges of witness tampering in Manafort's case, has denied having ties to Russian spy agencies.

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.

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Jackson's ruling could affect Manafort's sentencing on two felony charges stemming from illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

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.

Mueller got that information from Gates, according to the transcript. And in 2016. there is an in-person meeting with someone who the government has certainly proffered to this court in the past, is understood by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assessed to be - have a relationship with Russian intelligence, that there is [redacted].

In another instance during the hearing, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann alleged Manafort may have lied to hide a scheme to funnel cash to himself while doing unpaid work for the Trump campaign. 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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