Manafort suspected of sharing polling data with associate linked to Russian intelligence

ABC Television

According to a CNBC report, special counsel Robert Mueller accused Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort of sharing polling data from the 2016 presidential campaign with an alleged Russian spy.

Kilimnik has always been suspected to be central to Mueller's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort's lawyers provided no additional details about the "Ukrainian peace plan", in their filing.

The filing contains new information about Manafort's connections to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian business associate who was indicted past year on charges he tampered with potential witnesses. He had denied working for Russian intelligence.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave Manafort's lawyers until Monday to respond to the allegation in writing and said prosecutors must provide their underlying evidence by January 14.

The disclosure suggests that one part of Mueller's probe is focusing on whether Kilimnik may have served as a back channel through Manafort to Russian Federation during the election.

A spokeswoman for Deripaska has said he was never offered or received briefings about the Trump campaign.

In his filing, Manafort's lawyers said any inconsistencies in those interviews were unintentional and in part attributable to his months in solitary confinement at the Alexandria jail in Virginia, which they say has "taken a toll on his physical and mental health".

Prosecutors said that they met 12 times with Manafort, and he testified twice to a grand jury, on October 26 and November 2. The filing was submitted under seal on Monday and a redacted version released on Tuesday.

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Four redacted portions of the filing, including two dealing with Kilimnik, are visible when pasted into a Microsoft Word document. No response appeared on the electronic filing system in Washington federal court by the cutoff.

Emails previously reported by the AP and other news outlets show that in July 2016, Manafort told Kilimnik he was willing to provide "private briefings" about the Trump campaign to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kilimnik has told The Washington Post he was in close contact with Manafort through the campaign and met with Manafort in the United States in May and in August 2016.

"There is no support for the proposition that Mr. Manafort intentionally lied to the Government", defense attorneys wrote in a Tuesday court filing. And in a third redaction apparently gone wrong, defense lawyers revealed that Manafort may have greenlighted an unnamed third party to drop his name if that person secured a meeting with President Trump.

The lawyers said that Manafort "provided complete and truthful information to the best of his ability", and that he "attempted to live up to the requirements of his cooperation agreement and provided meaningful cooperation relating to several key areas under current government investigation".

In June 2016, Manafort, along with Donald Trump Jr., and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, met a Russian lawyer at New York's Trump Tower in hopes of receiving damaging information about Trump's then-political opponent, Hillary Clinton. This does not constitute outreach by Mr. Manafort to the President. "He also suffers from depression and anxiety and, due to the facility's visitation regulations, has had very little contact with his family". That time could come in addition to his punishment for separate convictions in Virginia on tax and bank fraud charges. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to avoid a second trial in Washington on related charges.

Mueller accused Manafort in December of authorizing a third party to communicate on his behalf with an "administration official", despite him telling investigators he did not recall direct or indirect communications with administration officials.

Following the filing by Manafort's lawyers, Jackson ordered the government to submit evidence supporting their allegations by January 14, and held out the option of holding a hearing on the matter on January 25.

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