By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - A federal judge ruled Wednesday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to investigators in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, violating the terms of his plea agreement with them.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson's decision paves the way for Mueller's team to pursue a tougher sentence against the formerly wealthy longtime Republican consultant.
The plea agreement Manafort struck before lying to investigators allowed for his term to be served concurrently with any sentence he receives from a separate case in Virginia. But Mueller's team is almost certain to now seek to have them served consecutively as his office "is no longer" bound by the plea deal's terms.
Jackson determined in her four-page decision that Manafort lied about a variety of issues, including his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national accused of having ties to Moscow's intelligence services. Kilimnik has been charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy but has not faced the charges in the U.S.
But she did not agree with all of the lies Mueller's team asserted, saying it "has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence" that he lied on two occasions.
Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13 in federal court in Washington, D.C.
Manafort is one of several individuals tied to the Trump campaign who have pled guilty to various charges brought by Mueller. He struck a deal in September with the special counsel's office to avoid a second trial after being convicted in Virginia of financial crimes.