Paul Manafort's lawyer did not properly redact his filing asking the court to allow his plea deal to stand, exposing specific issues which triggered Robert Mueller's request to end it.
January 8, 2019

Today, Paul Manafort's lawyers filed an answer to the government's claim he violated his plea agreement. Parts of the filing were supposed to be redacted, but an error in how the redactions were done revealed the text beneath. Here is the document. Find a redaction, copy it, and paste it to a new document and you, too, can see the PDF magic ink revealing the underlying text.

The first revealed redaction indicates that Robert Mueller believes Manafort lied about his meetings with Konstantin Kilmnik, his Russian contact, specifically about the Ukrainian "peace plan" and the changes to the Republican platform to accommodate Russian wishes with regard to Ukraine. The government pointed to two specific times where Manafort failed to recall discussions about Ukraine and in one case where he met Kilimnik in Madrid, Spain.

According to Manafort's attorneys, that was just a product of the hustle and bustle of a national campaign. He forgot key meetings with Russians, as top campaign operatives do, because "issues and communications related to Ukrainian political events simply were not at the forefront of Mr. Manafort’s mind during the period at issue and it is not surprising at all that Mr. Manafort was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed."

This is also true, apparently, of "the Government’s allegation that Mr. Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign."

Wait, what? Yes, read that again. Apparently Manafort shared polling data with his Russian handler -- er, friend. And as Katy Tur asks in the segment above discussing all of this with Tom Winter, what polling data did he share, given that Kilimnik was clearly able to access publicly available polling data. Were these internal polls? Were they proprietary? What was the purpose of sharing polling data at all? I could certainly imagine a situation where Manafort shared data obtained and processed through Cambridge Analytica, particularly in relationship to social media targeting Russians might want to try.

The other exposed redactions concern Manafort giving a third party permission to tell Donald Trump they know him, as well as some other contacts with the administration which are unspecified and how he reported a payment made to him.

The real meat here -- beyond the incompetence or intentions of Manafort's lawyers -- is that Paul Manafort was in regular contact with Konstantin Kilimnik and failed to tell prosecutors about it until he was confronted with evidence of it. We don't know what the dates were for the polling data, but since Paul Manafort did not join Trump's campaign until 2016, I'm willing to assume it was sometime after he had access to proprietary data not readily available to everyone.

Conspiracy is the operative word here. Not collusion. Conspiracy. And we're just seeing a tiny tip of the iceberg.

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