Manafort continued Ukraine work in 2018, prosecutors say

Attendees listen as Donald Trump speaks after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

Attendees listen as Donald Trump speaks after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office is alleging former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort continued work related to Ukraine after his 2017 indictment, according to a redacted transcript from Manafort's hearing with federal prosecutors on Monday.

The partially redacted transcript, of a lengthy hearing that took place behind closed doors on Monday, shows that Mueller's team contended that when Manafort was debriefed by prosecutors and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, he seemed to be trying to avoid providing information that could be damaging to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian national who was deeply involved in Manafort's political consulting work in Ukraine.

According to the transcript, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said the substance of the meeting, which took place in NY just weeks after the Republican National Convention, goes to the "larger view of what we think is going on" and what "we think the motive here is".

In previous court documents, it was revealed that one of the topics discussed by Manafort and Kilimnik was a possible "Ukrainian peace plan".

The closed hearing was held so the judge could weigh evidence supporting allegations by Mueller's office that Manafort had lied to prosecutors about five subject matters in breach of a plea agreement struck in September.

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.

While many conservative critics of the investigation - most notably Trump - have dismissed the idea that there was any "collusion", criminal or otherwise, between the campaign and Russia's efforts to interfere in the election, the special counsel's office made clear in the hearing that it is still interested in these questions.

Legal analyst Luppe Luppen speculated on Twitter that, in a redacted portion of the transcript, prosecutors may have listed the possibility of a presidential pardon as an "unusual factor" in Manafort's plea agreement.

Among other times, they said Manafort and Kilimnik had discussed the topic "in January 2017, in person, in Washington, D.C., when Kilimnik was here for the inauguration".

At one point, the prosecutor acknowledges that Manafort may have been playing for a pardon. Kilimnik, who was also indicted in the Manafort case but has been beyond the reach of USA law enforcement, has been described by prosecutors as someone with ties to Russian intelligence.

Jackson is set to sentence Manafort on March 13 for two conspiracy counts.

And even The Daily Caller's Chuck Ross, a frequent critic of the Russia investigation, pointed out Thursday that the meeting with Kilimnick Weissman referenced was on August 2 - a month after Manafort sent a Kilimnick an email offering private briefings to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska, to whom Manafort was reportedly in debt. Gates also spoke to investigators about Manafort sharing the polling data, according to the transcript.

In another instance during the hearing, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann alleged Manafort may have lied to hide a scheme to funnel cash to himself while doing unpaid work for the Trump campaign.

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