In an improperly redacted court filing released Tuesday, Paul Manafort’s attorneys accidentally revealed some of the former Trump campaign manager’s concessions to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about contact with Russians and others during the 2016 presidential campaign. The documents also disclosed some of the Mueller team’s previously unaired accusations against Manafort.
In section of a PDF filed with the court, Manafort’s attorneys said their client “conceded” (quoting a Mueller filing) that Manafort had spoken with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian linked with Kremlin intelligence forces, on more than one occasion about “a Ukraine peace plan.” The lawyers also note Manafort “acknowledged” meeting Kilimnik while both were in Madrid. The filing said Mueller accused Manafort of allowing an unnamed third party to use his name in contacting Trump, and of Manafort sharing polling information with Kilimnik.
The court filing was intended to rebut Mueller’s contentions that Manafort continued to lie to investigators after agreeing to a plea deal for limited charges that would avert a trial on a number of other counts. Mueller broke off the plea agreement Nov. 26 telling a judge who will oversee sentencing that Manafort continued to commit crimes, which violated the arrangement.
His attorneys in both the intentionally released and redacted portions don’t dispute some of Mueller’s allegations, but the lawyer made it clear that they aren’t requesting a hearing to review the facts. Instead, they claim that Manafort’s memory was affected by early morning risings, long days of questioning, and health issues that include gout, depression, and anxiety. The gout, they said, has led to Manafort being confined to a wheelchair at times.
Manafort is held in solitary confinement in prison, his lawyers noted, although they agreed it was for his own safety to be kept apart from the general prison population. Until mid-2018, Manafort had a private cell, bathroom, shower, unlimited 15-minute phone calls, a laptop, and other amenities, but his conditions since he was moved to a different prison are likely far more spartan, but haven’t been revealed.
Federal prosecutors convinced a jury in August 2018 to convict Manafort on eight of 18 bank and tax fraud charges in a trial in New York. Manafort then pleaded guilty to two other charges in September to avoid a second trial on money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, and obstruction of justice related to his work as a political consultant for Ukraine while it was headed by a Russian-aligned president. Manafort has also forfeited tens of millions of dollars in property.
Manafort’s attorneys used a black-bar overlay on the PDF document they submitted to the court, but the overlay didn’t eliminate the underlying text, which could be copied and pasted. This is a common error in court filings, cleaned-up confidential government documents intended for release, and releases under various countries’ freedom of information acts.