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Lawyers for Manafort charge Mueller has unfairly accused him of lying

Trump's former 2016 campaign chairman is to be sentenced in March.
Paul Manafort and his lawyer, Kevin Downing, after a motion hearing at the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia on May 4, 2018.
Paul Manafort and his lawyer, Kevin Downing, after a hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 4, 2018.Shawn Thew / EPA file

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 has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 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.

Manafort was convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud in August, and a month later agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation by pleading guilty to two new counts and admitting his guilt to 10 counts outstanding from an earlier trial.