Manafort attorneys file answers to Mueller claims under seal

Attorneys for President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE’s former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortCollege admissions scandal underscores importance of attorney ethics in America Five things to watch for as White House readies for Mueller report As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges MORE last night filed under seal responses to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s accusations that Manafort breached a plea agreement by lying to federal prosecutors, a Manafort spokesman tells The Hill.

As of early Tuesday morning, it appeared that they had possibly missed a court-ordered deadline to reply to the claims. 

A filing responding to the claims was due Monday, but the midnight deadline came and went without any submission appearing on the court’s docket. The Manafort spokesman says that the document was filed under seal. Attorneys normally announce their intention to file under seal and it was not reflected in the document.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mueller in November accused Manafort of lying to the FBI and the special counsel’s office on a variety of subject matters, including Manafort's contacts with Trump administration officials; his interactions with an associate who has suspected ties to Russian intelligence; the associate's role in tampering with witnesses; a $125,000 payment made to a firm working for Manafort; and information he provided related to another Justice Department investigation.

In a court hearing in December, Manafort’s attorneys had said they may not contest Mueller’s claims, which they had initially denied.

Prosecutors on Mueller’s team at the time told Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee overseeing Manafort’s case in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia, that they were considering bringing new charges against Manafort for the crimes he committed by breaching the deal.

Berman Jackson has scheduled March 5 as a tentative date to sentence Manafort to the two felonies he pleaded guilty to as part of the plea agreement, which allowed him to avoid a second criminal trial in return for his full cooperation in the Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Monday’s filing is the latest flashpoint in Manafort’s case and comes well over a year after Mueller first charged him with a series of offenses related to his lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

A jury in Alexandria, Va., convicted Manafort of eight counts of bank and tax fraud over the summer.

Manafort was viewed as a key witness for Mueller as he investigates Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, but Manafort's cooperation with the probe was short-lived.

Updated at 10:50 a.m. after Manafort's spokesman confirmed documents had been filed.