WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Thursday he knew nothing about his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sharing poll data with a Russian before the 2016 election.
“No, I didn't know anything about it,” Trump said at the White House, before departing for Texas to talk about border security. “Nothing about it.”
Manafort’s lawyers inadvertently revealed the accusation from Justice Department special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, that Manafort had lied about sharing polling data during the campaign with his Russian business partner, Konstantin Kliminik.
Mueller voided Manafort's plea agreement Nov. 26 by arguing that he lied repeatedly to investigators.
Manafort’s lawyers said Mueller alleged he “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” according to a 10-page filing Tuesday that was unsuccessfully redacted. But Manafort's lawyers argued Tuesday that he didn't intentionally lie and neglected to mention sharing polling data with Kilimnik because he was busy with the campaign.
"Such a failure is unsurprising here, where these occurrences happened during a period when Mr. Manafort was managing a U.S. presidential campaign and had countless meetings, email communications, and other interactions with many different individuals, and traveled frequently," his lawyers said in the filing.
The government is scheduled to file its response Monday and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson scheduled a hearing Jan. 25 to discuss the dispute.
Manafort was convicted by a federal jury in Virginia of banking and tax charges stemming from representing a pro-Russia faction in Ukraine. Manafort pleaded guilty in Washington to obstructing justice by attempting with Kilimnik to contact two witnesses in the case.
Manafort met with prosecutors and FBI agents on 12 occasions, including three before entering the plea agreement, according to the filing. He also testified before a grand jury on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2. Prosecutors informed Manafort's lawyers Nov. 8 that they "believed that Manafort had lied in multiple ways and on multiple occasions."
Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 8 after a Virginia jury convicted Manafort of eight bank and tax fraud charges in August related to what prosecutors described as a multiyear scheme carried out while working as a consultant to a pro-Russia faction in Ukraine.
The plea dispute in D.C. stemmed from an agreement in September, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Sentencing in that case is scheduled March 5.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Donald Trump denies knowing about Paul Manafort sharing polling data with Russian