Chuck Ross, DCNF
- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has reportedly met with the special counsel nearly a dozen times since he entered a plea deal on Sept. 14.
- But ABC News reports that Manafort is not providing the Mueller team with the information it had hoped for.
- Manafort began cooperating in hopes of cutting time off of his prison sentence for tax and bank fraud convictions.
Prosecutors with the special counsel’s office are “not getting what they want” from Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who entered a plea agreement in September in hopes of shaving time off his prison sentence for tax and bank fraud.
ABC News reports that Manafort is providing much less information than Robert Mueller and his stable of prosecutors in the special counsel’s office initially expected.
Manafort has met with prosecutors nearly a dozen times since entering a plea agreement on Sept. 14, just before the start of a second trial on charges related to Manafort’s lobbying work in Ukraine.
As part of the plea deal, Manafort agreed to provide information on a “broad” array of topics. It has been unclear whether Manafort was providing information about President Donald Trump, Trump associates, or other matters.
The ABC article, which is based on anonymous sources, does not make clear whether Manafort has failed to provide information that he promised to share with investigators, or whether he merely has failed to meet the Mueller team’s expectations.
Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers for the Russia probe, told Reuters on Oct. 22 that Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, had revealed to him that Manafort is not providing information that implicates Trump. Manafort has maintained a joint defense agreement with Trump.
If Manafort is deemed uncooperative, that could stymie his hopes of getting a lighter sentence on his Aug. 21 conviction in Virginia on bank fraud and tax fraud. Manafort’s plea agreement would cap his prison sentence to 10 years.
Manafort’s plea deal stipulated that if prosecutors determined that Manafort had “failed to cooperate fully, has intentionally given false, misleading or incomplete information or testimony,” he “will not be released from his pleas of guilty but the Government will be released from its obligations.”
According to ABC News, prosecutors have asked Manafort about his work with Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant who is a focus of the Mueller probe.
Mueller is interested in finding out if Stone had prior knowledge of Wikileaks’ plans to release emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Stone has vehemently denied having specific knowledge about the content, source, or specific timing of Wikileaks’ email dumps.
Mueller’s team has been asking Manafort about work he did with Stone as far back as the 1980s. Manafort and Stone ran the lobbying firm, Manafort, Black & Stone, that became notorious for taking on foreign clients deemed off-limits by most other lobby shops.
Manafort is also being pressed for information on his contacts with Stone during the 2016 presidential campaign. The 69-year-old political operative has provided little useful information about Stone, ABC’s sources said.
A spokesman for Manafort declined comment on the ABC report.