Ex-Trump campaign chair lied, broke plea agreement, says Mueller

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Special counsel Robert Mueller says former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators in the Russian Federation probe.

"After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel's Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement", the government said in a joint filing with Manafort's attorneys.

"As the defendant has breached the plea agreement", the filing read, "there is no reason to delay his sentencing herein".

Mueller said in the filing that those lies breached Manafort's plea agreement. A jury in Virginia convicted Manafort in the case Mueller brought against him there, where the charges focused on bank fraud and tax fraud allegations that mostly predated the 2016 campaign.

Paul Manafort has pleaded guilty to two charges - conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.

Manafort's plea deal stipulates: 'If prosecutors determine that Manafort had failed to cooperate fully, has intentionally given false, misleading or incomplete information or testimony, he will not be released from his pleas of guilty but the Government will be released from its obligations'.

The former Trump campaign manager knew about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Manafort himself and a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who claimed to have dirt on Trump's presidential rival Hillary Clinton. His attorneys say in the same filing that he believes he "provided truthful information".

The charges only relate to Manafort's political consulting with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, largely pre-dating his role with the Trump campaign.

Since September this year when he took a plea deal in return for reduced charges, Mr Manafort has been cooperating with Mr Mueller's inquiry. In his separate Virginia case, Manafort's potential sentencing under federal guidelines has not yet been calculated, but prosecutors have previously said he could face as much as 10 years in prison on those charges.

The surprise development came at a critical time for Mueller, who is expected to finalise a report in the coming months on the findings of his 18-month probe into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. It is not clear if these charges will now be refiled.

Following his conviction, President Trump praised his former campaign chairman for refusing to "break" under legal pressure.

Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant ran the Trump campaign.