Mueller alleges Manafort continued work related to Ukraine despite 2017 indictment

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

The U.S. special counsel's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is focusing on a meeting by Donald Trump's then-campaign chairman and a business associate who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence.

Mueller's prosecutors accused Manafort in November of breaking a plea deal by lying to the special counsel's office about his communication with Kilimnik during the campaign, contacts with members of the Trump administration, and a $125,000 loan he received in 2016.

"This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what Special Counsel [Robert Mueller's] Office is investigating", Andrew Weissmann, one of the prosecutors on Mueller's team, told the judge, according to a transcript of the hearing.

Manafort's legal team had mistakenly revealed in an improperly redacted court filing on January 8 that Mueller's prosecutors said Manafort had "lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign".

The comments came during a hearing over whether Manafort lied to investigators and violated the terms of his plea agreement.

At one point in the discussion, Weissmann describes how Manafort told prosecutors that his topic of discussion with Kilimnik was a "backdoor [REDACTED]. and because of that, he was not going to countenance it".

Manafort's hopes for a pardon was one of several revelations in the 142-page transcript of a sealed hearing. And Weissman was also careful to note to the judge that there were certain facts he wasn't willing to reveal in court.

Weissmann said at the hearing that the meeting included Rick Gates, Manafort's top deputy on the Trump campaign and in Ukraine who also has pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation, and that Gates said the men left separately using different exits than Kilimnik.

The transcript revealed that Kilimnik attended Trump's inauguration, and that he and Manafort did political work in Ukraine in 2018 - after Manafort's first indictment in late 2017. Kilimnik was indicted a year ago with Manafort on witness tampering charges.

Jackson's ruling could affect Manafort's sentencing on two felony charges stemming from illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

A jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty on eight counts of tax and bank-fraud charged against him in August. And in 2016. there is an in-person meeting with someone who the government has certainly proffered to this court in the past, is understood by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assessed to be - have a relationship with Russian intelligence, that there is [redacted].

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.

President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort has some big problems.