Manafort Allegedly Shared Polling Data With Russian Operative

ABC Television

ABC Television

In its filing on Tuesday (local time) the defence was trying to rebut allegations Manafort intentionally lied to Mr Mueller's team after agreeing to plead guilty last September. But while portions of the filing were supposed to be redacted and shielded from the public, court watchers were able to view the filing in its entirety by copying and pasting the redacted sections.

Kilimnik, who worked closely with Manafort, is believed to have close ties to Russian intelligence.

Manafort was among the first Americans charged in Mueller's investigation and has been among the central characters in the case, having led the campaign during the Republican convention and as, United States intelligence officials say, Russian Federation was working to sway the election in Trump's favor.

In their response on Tuesday, Manafort's attorneys inadvertently revealed that the special counsel alleges Manafort "lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign".

This is the first time prosecutors with Mueller's team have accused President Trump's associate of being in touch with a Russian contact in relation to the presidential election.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said the Madrid trip mentioned in the filing occurred in January or February 2017 - months after Manafort was ousted from the campaign and as Mr Trump was taking office.

Kevin Downing and Thomas Zehnle, defense attorneys for former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, leave U.S. District Court after a status hearing in Washington, Dec. 11, 2018.

Prosecutors say Manafort breached their plea agreement by lying, but defence lawyers argue that any misstatements were simple mistakes made by a man coping with illness, exhaustion and extensive questioning from investigators. The lawyers also note Manafort "acknowledged" meeting Kilimnik while both were in Madrid. Manafort has "suffered from severe gout and is suffering, at times confining him to a wheelchair", the court papers say. Manafort pleaded guilty to obstruction in September, but Kilimnik lives safely in Russian Federation, out of the reach of USA courts.

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Mueller accused Manafort in December of authorizing a third party to communicate on his behalf with an "administration official", despite him telling investigators he did not recall direct or indirect communications with administration officials.

They add the other example of alleged contact with administration officials "is hearsay purportedly offered by an undisclosed third party and the defense has not been provided with the statement".

Manafort, 69, was convicted in August in a separate case in Virginia, for evading taxes on $16m earned as a political consultant in Ukraine and lying to banks to get loans.

Manafort sent Kilimnik, a former Russian military intelligence official, an email in April 2016, shortly after joining the campaign, suggesting that he sought to use his new position as leverage with Deripaska.

Manafort will not ask for a hearing regarding the prosecution's accusations, according to the filings.

Manafort has been imprisoned since June, when a federal judge said he violated his bail by reaching out to potential witnesses in his case.

Manafort reached the plea agreement with Mueller in September after a jury found him guilty of eight charges of tax evasion and bank fraud by a jury in the USA state of Virginia in August.

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