The legal saga of Paul Manafort took yet another twist on Tuesday.
Lawyers for Trump’s disgraced former campaign chairman, who was convicted of tax and bank fraud last year, submitted a filing in Washington, D.C., federal court responding to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s assertion that Manafort had lied to Mueller’s office and so violated his plea agreement. Manafort’s lawyers pushed back on that claim by saying that he had extensively cooperated with Mueller, meeting with the government lawyers and investigators a dozen times and twice testifying before a grand jury.
But Manafort’s team screwed up.
They tried to redact four different passages in their filing, but failed to do so properly, leaving the redacted text in plain sight. For instance, Manafort’s lawyers responded to Mueller’s allegation that Manafort lied to the government about his interactions with a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, who was Manafort’s right-hand man during his time as a powerful political consultant in Ukraine. What’s more noteworthy is that Kilimnik has alleged connections to Russian intelligence.
When Paul Manafort's lawyers submitted their latest pleading in federal court, they *tried* to redact some portions. They failed. You can copy the text right from underneath the black boxes. *facepalm* https://t.co/2gvYqsmE0i
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) January 8, 2019
What the redacted text says is that Manafort allegedly misled Mueller about meeting with Kilimnik during the 2016 presidential campaign and discussing a “Ukraine peace plan” with Kilimnik “on more than one occasion.” Another improperly redacted section revealed that Mueller has alleged that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign.” The remaining redactions detail rebuttals from Manafort’s lawyers to two other alleged instances of misleading statements made by Manafort, including one about Manafort allegedly contacting President Trump in May 2018.
After journalists revealed the improper redactions, Manafort’s lawyers refiled the document with the redactions fixed.
Meanwhile, Natalya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who, along with others, met with Donald Trump, Jr., in Trump Tower prior to the 2016 election, has been charged with obstruction of justice by federal prosecutors. The charges stem from a money laundering case involving a Cyprus investment firm owned by a wealthy Russian businessman, one of Veselnitskaya’s clients. Prosecutors allege that Veselnitskaya secretly worked with the Russian government to draft an “intentionally misleading” statement clearing the company of any wrongdoing.
The case, which the Justice Department launched in 2013, is unrelated to Trump or the 2016 election, but the new indictment highlights Veselnitskaya’s close ties with the Kremlin, increasing the likelihood that she was working working hand-in-glove with the Russian government when she met with Trump, Jr., in 2016. The meeting was brokered by music publicist Ron Goldstone, who promised Trump, Jr,. in an email that Veselnitskaya, referred to as a “Russian government attorney,” possessed damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Before the emails between Goldstone and Trump Jr. were released, Veselnitskaya claimed that she was attending the meeting in a private capacity.
In other words, it hasn’t been a good day for the “NO COLLUSION!” contingent.