Paul Manafort may not contest claim he lied to Robert Mueller's team

WASHINGTON ― An attorney for Paul Manafort said Tuesday that the former Trump campaign manager chairman may not contest the allegation by Robert Mueller’s special counsel team that Manafort lied after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Manafort’s lawyer Richard Westling, appearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a federal courthouse in D.C., said “the certainty of the hearing is less clear” following an earlier meeting with Mueller’s team. The decision about whether to contest the claims that Manafort lied, Westling said, may be influenced by “information we learned today about where this all goes.”

Mueller’s team told the court on Friday that Manafort had, among other things, lied to federal investigators after he reached a plea deal in September about his prior dealings with Trump administration officials. Those contacts reportedly took place even after his initial October 2017 indictment.

Mueller’s team said that Manafort had “authorized a person to speak with an Administration official on Manafort’s behalf” in a text exchange in May 2018 and that his documents provided additional evidence of contact with administration officials. Andrew Weissmann, an attorney with Mueller’s office, didn’t disclose any details about the allegations against Manafort.

Judge Berman Jackson set a hearing for Jan. 25 to determine whether Manafort lied, which would impact his sentencing, as well as several deadlines for filings that will disclose more information.

Manafort’s sentencing is currently scheduled for March.

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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
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Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort through the years
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort speaks at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort (C) and daughter Ivanka (R) look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager Paul Manafort appears at a press conference at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort talks to the media from the Trump family box on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, smiles as he talks with other Trump campaign staff after Trump spoke to supporters following the results of the Indiana state primary, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's senior campaign adviser Paul Manafort (L) walks into a reception with former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 21: Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort listens to Ivanka Trump speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A man with a security credential takes a selfie at the podium as Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium early Thursday afternoon in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 19: Paul Manafort, advisor to Donald Trump, is seen on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Paul Manafort., Convention Manager, Trump Campaign, appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday April 10, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NA.R.DoleMicCk1.081596.RG.Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole looks up from podium at balloons and television cameras as convention center manager Paul Manafort, at right, points out preparations for tonight's acceptance speech in San Diego, 08/15/96. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Manafort, who has been in custody since June, did not appear at the hearing on Tuesday. He has previously appeared in federal court in a wheelchair. President Donald Trump has suggested that he’s open to pardoning Manafort and expressed concerns about the treatment of his former campaign manager.

Manafort attorney Kevin Downing had kept Trump’s team informed of developments in the Mueller probe as part of a joint defense agreement between the Trump and Manafort teams.

A federal jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty on eight tax-related charges in August. Manafort had been facing two separate proceedings in federal courts in Virginia and in D.C. because he refused to agree to a procedural move that would have consolidated the cases.

Manafort, a veteran political operative who worked on numerous Republican presidential campaigns, has in recent years been more known for his lucrative work for Ukraine that gave him numerous ties to Russia. He sat in on the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer that was organized after Donald Trump Jr. got an email promising “dirt” on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rick Gates, a former Manafort aide and deputy Trump campaign official, has been cooperating with Mueller’s team. Gates testified against Manafort at his trial and admitted to embezzling money from his former boss. It’s unclear what evidence Gates has disclosed to Mueller’s team.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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