Manafort continued Ukraine work in 2018, prosecutors say


A top prosecutor in the special counsel investigation into 2016 election interference has told a federal judge that a summer 2016 meeting in ny between then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a man described as a former Russian intelligence officer strikes at "the heart of what the Special Counsel's Office is investigating", a newly released court filing shows.

Mueller's prosecutors accused Manafort in November of breaking a plea deal by lying to the special counsel's office about his communication with Kilimnik during the campaign, contacts with members of the Trump administration, and a $125,000 loan he received in 2016. The transcript of the hearing, which took place Monday, was released by court order Thursday, but much of it was redacted to protect the ongoing investigation, including several key portions about Manafort and Kilimnik.

The transcript also reveals that Manafort met with Kilimnik at Trump's January 2017 inauguration, which is reportedly under investigation separately by the Southern District of NY.

At the meeting, Ukrainian policy - and, it appears according to previous filings, a peace plan that would have benefited Russian Federation - came up.

Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik - the aide who also has been indicted in the Mueller investigation - discussed a peace plan for Ukraine on more than one occasion, including during one meeting in August 2016, while Manafort served as Trump's campaign chairman, Manafort's attorneys have said. A second sealed hearing on the matter is set for next week.

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Mueller is investigating whether there was collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian Federation, which US intelligence agencies charge mounted an influence operation to sway the vote to Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

A judge confirmed in a court filing Thursday that federal prosecutors in NY are still investigating campaign finance crimes committed when Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid two women to stay silent about alleged affairs with Trump.

In addition to the August 2, 2016 meeting, which took place at the Grand Havana Club, a cigar bar in Manhattan, Manafort and Kilimnik also discussed the Ukraine-related issue in December 2016 and twice in early 2017, according to the transcript.

Manafort has said he never lied to prosecutors. It makes clear that prosecutors have homed in on the repeated contacts between Manafort and his longtime associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, who the Federal Bureau of Investigation says has ties to the Russia's military intelligence agency. Gates also spoke to investigators about Manafort sharing the polling data, according to the transcript.

Manafort's defense team has argued in court filings that "a fair reading" of much of the government's evidence about the alleged lies "merely demonstrates a lack of consistency in Mr. Manafort's recollection of certain facts and events", many of which occurred years ago or during a high-pressure presidential campaign he left as questions about his work in Ukraine were being raised.