That's according to a newly unsealed court transcript in Paul Manafort's criminal case. It makes clear that prosecutors have homed in on the repeated contacts between Manafort and his longtime associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, who the Federal Bureau of Investigation says has ties to the Russia's military intelligence agency.
This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel's office is investigating.
A special counsel prosecutor also suggested in the hearing that the former campaign chairman was not forthcoming because Manafort was angling for a pardon.
In addition to the August 2, 2016 meeting, which took place at the Grand Havana Club, a cigar bar in Manhattan, Manafort and Kilimnik also discussed the Ukraine-related issue in December 2016 and twice in early 2017, according to the transcript.More news: Second Woman Accuses Fairfax of Sexual Assault
Manafort's hopes for a pardon was one of several revelations in the 142-page transcript of a sealed hearing. But that portion of Weissmann's testimony is redacted in the public transcripts.
The transcript also reveals that Manafort met with Kilimnik at Trump's January 2017 inauguration, which is reportedly under investigation separately by the Southern District of NY.
The hearing focused on whether Manafort breached his plea agreement by lying to investigators, including about his meetings with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence. He's overseas and hasn't answered the charges.
In the same court documents, Manafort's defense counsel wrote that their client "discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion", but details of the alleged plan and the timeframe in which Manafort and Kilimnik discussed it were not described.More news: Marks and Spencer say Valentine's Day is all about the 'Love Sausauge'
Jackson's ruling could affect Manafort's sentencing on two felony charges stemming from illegal lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian interests.
Mueller got that information from Gates, according to the transcript. Downing claimed that Gates lied during his testimony as a prosecution witness at Manafort's Virginia trial.
The special counsel's office has cast a wide net, indicting Russians who used hacking and social media trickery to influence the 2016 election.
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. Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, emailed Kilimnik earlier in the year to offer "private briefings" about the Trump campaign, the Washington Post reported.More news: Renault probes Carlos Ghosn’s lavish Versailles wedding for misused funds
The August 2016 meeting with Kilimnik also mattered to prosecutors because the Federal Bureau of Investigation has linked Kilimnik to the Russian intelligence service, the GRU, Weissmann said. The New York Times has reported the payment involved Manafort's use of money from a pro-Trump political action committee to help pay his legal bills.
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