Lawyers for Manafort charge Mueller has unfairly accused him of lying

Paul Manafort and his lawyer, Kevin Downing, after a motion hearing at the
Paul Manafort and his lawyer, Kevin Downing, after a motion hearing at the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia on May 4, 2018. Copyright Shawn Thew EPA file
By Pete Williams with NBC News Politics
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Trump's former 2016 campaign chairman is to be sentenced in March.


WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Paul Manafort said Wednesday that Robert Mueller's prosecutors have unfairly accused him of lying in his sessions with them after he pleaded guilty.

The Mueller team has accused him of failing to abide by his agreement to cooperate with investigators during 12 debriefings and two appearances before a grand jury. They have said he lied about a $125,000 payment he received in 2017, his conversations with a former associate who's been accused of being a Russian intelligence operative, contacts with administration officials, and an unspecified ongoing investigation.

A fair reading of the government's contention, Manafort's lawyers said in a court filing "does not support the conclusion that Mr. Manafort intentionally provided false information." When placed in context, much of the evidence presented by the special counsel's team "merely demonstrates a lack of consistency in Mr. Manafort's recollection of certain facts and events."

When defendants agree to cooperate with the government, it's unusual for prosecutors not to provide documentation in advance to refresh their recollection, the filing said. But instead of doing so with Manafort, the prosecutors seemed intent on a desire to "test Mr. Manafort's recall."

The federal judge overseeing Manafort's case in Washington, D.C., has scheduled a hearing for January 25 to evaluate the Mueller's team's claims that he has not lived up to the promises he made when he agreed to plead guilty. The judge's conclusion about the question will affect whether he gets credit for cooperation when he is sentenced on March 5.

His lawyers said he would not attend the Friday hearing.

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