A federal judge ruled today that Paul Manafort lied to special counsel Robert Mueller's office, which effectively voids Manafort's plea agreement and ensures that he will receive a more harsh prison sentence.
One possibility now is that Manafort may be motivated to cooperate more earnestly with federal investigators, in a last-ditch attempt to avoid losing his liberty for life.
Here is the PDF of the judge's ruling today.
Zoe Tillman at Buzzfeed News:
US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote that prosecutors "established by a preponderance of the evidence" that Manafort made false statements about his communications with longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik, a separate, as-yet-nonpublic Justice Department investigation, and a payment related to a debt that Manafort had taken on.
Jackson also found that Mueller's office did not prove that Manafort intentionally made false statements about his contacts with the Trump administration and about Kilimnik's role in the obstruction of justice conspiracy that Manafort pleaded guilty to.
Mueller's office has said they don't plan on bringing criminal charges against Manafort related to the alleged false statements. Whether Manafort lied and violated his plea deal bears on his sentencing – a violation of the agreement after pleading guilty would hurt any argument Manafort makes for leniency, and absolves Mueller's office of having to support a lower sentence, which they'd agreed to do as part of the deal.
Jackson's decision could also affect the sentence Manafort receives in the other case that Mueller's office filed against him in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. US District Judge T.S. Ellis III put sentencing there on hold until the plea deal breach issue is resolved in Manafort's DC case.
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