Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort may be facing a more severe prison sentence after a federal judge ruled Wednesday that he had lied to the special counsel after signing a plea deal with him. As a result, prosecutors are no longer bound by the deal to recommend a lighter sentence for Manafort.
Manafort “made multiple false statements to the FBI, the OSC and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation,” the judge wrote.
“Therefore, the Office of Special Counsel is no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including its promise to support a reduction of the offense level in the calculation of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines for acceptance of responsibility,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson added in an order issued Wednesday, ABC News reports.
In November, the special counsel’s office accused Manafort of lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik and later “established by a preponderance of the evidence” to support its claim, the judge added.
His defense claims that Manafort did not lie on purpose, but the judge agreed with prosecutors that he misled them on several occasions, including in October 2018 when he made false statements that were material to a Justice Department investigation.
As his recommendation for lighter sentencing depended on the truthfulness of his statements, Manafort will now receive a longer prison sentence, potentially adding to decades in prison, although legal experts say it most likely won’t be more than seven years.
Jackson is scheduled to deliver the first sentence on March 13. Her ruling deals yet another blow to Manafort as special counsel Robert Mueller works to uncover Russian interference in the 2016 election.