WORLD
14/02/2019 11:08 AM AEDT | Updated 15/02/2019 1:17 AM AEDT

Paul Manafort Broke Plea Deal After Lying To Mueller’s Investigators, Judge Rules

A federal judge said the special counsel’s office is “no longer bound by its obligations” after the former Trump campaign chairman lied.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to federal investigators multiple times, breaching his plea deal, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson agreed with special counsel Robert Mueller’s assessment that Manafort, 69, violated the terms of a plea deal, willfully lying multiple times to the FBI and federal investigators.

“Therefore, the Office of Special Counsel is no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including its promise to support a reduction of the offense level in the calculation of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for acceptance of responsibility,” Berman wrote in her ruling.

Mueller’s team initially argued that Manafort had told “multiple discernible lies” that were ”not instance of mere memory lapses″ in court filings from December. Berman agreed on several counts, saying the former campaign manager had lied about his interactions with a Russian associate with ties to the Kremlin, Konstantin Kilimnik, about a payment made to cover his legal bills and on another matter to the Justice Department about a separate investigation.

The judge sided with Manafort on two of Mueller’s claims, saying there was not enough evidence to prove he misled investigators about Kilimnik or that he lied about his contacts with Trump administration officials.

Manafort’s original deal with the special counsel stipulated that he fully cooperate with Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and that he “must at all times give complete, truthful, and accurate information and testimony, and must not commit, or attempt to commit, any further crimes.”

The agreement also said that if Manafort were to breach the deal, he would still be bound by his guilty plea, but the government “will be released from its obligations.” Such a breach could add years to Manafort’s sentencing, and his hearing on the matter is set to begin next month.

He was convicted last year of eight felonies, including tax and bank fraud, and later decided to cooperate with Mueller’s office after pleading guilty to two other conspiracy charges.

This article has been updated with details on the plea deal.