I wrote this in TPM Forums. Reposting here:
So let's talk about the 142 page, partially redacted transcript of the hearing that took place last Monday, Feb 4, before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in DC. Manafort was present at the hearing. The subject matter was to discuss the false and inconsistent statements made by Manafort post-plea deal either in follow-up interviews or before the Grand Jury. These false and inconsistent statements are the basis of the Special Counsel's claim that Manafort violated his plea deal and that the court should proceed to immediate sentencing. The purpose of this hearing was for the Judge to determine whether the false statements made by Manafort should be considered for sentencing purposes.
The Manafort pattern was to make a statement at the proffer phase to get a deal and then walk it back post-plea deal in follow-up interviews with the Special Counsel/FBI or in front of the Grand Jury. There are 5 categories of such false statements:
$125,000 Payment Made to a Law Firm (characterized as a loan and not income). This may relate to Manafort's relationship with Federal Savings Bank of Chicago and Stephen Calk, a man who ran the bank and approved a loan of $16 million almost 25% of the bank's loan portfolio to Manafort on a quid pro quo arrangement where Manafort promised to get him a job in a Trump Administration (Secretary of the Army). Calk may have received a personal kick back of a portion of said loan from Manafort in this amount.
The key factor here is that the SCO notes that Manafort had a cash crunch after the Yanukovych money dried up. Inducing people to give him loans was a way to get cash as he was unpaid by the Trump campaign.
2.Kilimnick's Role in the Obstruction Conspiracy. Kilimnick was indicted by the Special Counsel for conspiring with Manafort to coach and tamper with witnesses and obstruct justice with respect to Manafort's scheme to use a pro-Kremlin/Yanukoych front lobbying group (the Hapsburg Group) to lobby both in the EU and the US for positions favorable to the Kremlin/Yanukovych. Again, this is another example where Manafort admitted to the crime and Kilimnick's role and then walked it back in later interviews.
3. Interactions with Kilimnick, P. 63-109
It is broken down by the Judge into two areas: Ukraine Stuff and ____________ stuff (redacted). But it's a lot of stuff. The "Ukraine stuff" I believe pertains to a Ukraine peace plan (different than the one pushed by Cohen/Sater) but again serving the same Kremlin goal of getting some form of official US recognition of Russia's forcible annexation of Crimea. For Putin, this would send a message to the rest of the region that they must bow to Russia as there is no international power that can restrain the Russian bear.
The second ____________'stuff' is redacted, but it ties substantially to the core of the Mueller investigation. I believe the second ____________'stuff' is about 'collusion'.
Judge: The OSC contends that lied about the number of times and discussed the Ukraine plan.
On these series of meetings, Manafort initially offered information on all of these meetings and then dialed it back in subsequent interviews and grand jury testimony. He did not realize that the OSC already had information from Gates and other sources, so Manafort was pushed into a situation of having to admit his error and plead to keep the deal going. At some point, the OSC got fed up with his mendacity.
In 2017/2018, Manafort continued to work for a potential candidate in the Ukraine. Manafort ran some polls as to what Ukrainians thought about ________ (redacted). I think what this was about is a poll on topics that aligned to Russia's interest in keeping Crimea. The point of this polling information was to enable Manafort to use it to sell the 'peace plan' to the Trump Administration and the GOP to essentially allow the Russians to keep Crimea with some form of US recognition partly on the grounds that Ukrainiains are ok with it.
It's here that the OSC attorneys then reveal how central the Manafort-Kilimnick relationship is to the overall investigation relating to Russia.
"Judge: Can you tell me why that was---I guess where I got the most confused, what the importance is of any dissembling about whether Kilimnick knew who he was working for or not, and what is role is creating the ________ or advancing them? Why is this important?
Andrew Weissman (OSC)): ....This goes to the large view of what we think is going on, and what we think motive here is. This goes, I think very much the heart of what’s supposed comes office is investigating. In 2016 there is an in person meeting with someone over the government has certainly proffered to this court in the pass is understood by the FBI assess to be have a relationship with Russian intelligence that there is ______________________. And there is an in person meeting at an unusual time for somebody who is the campaign chairman to be spending time into be doing it in person. That meeting and what happened at that meeting is of significance to the Special Counsel. Looking at the issue of what _______________________ (4 lines redacted) all are the focus of -- and are raised by the issue of the August 2nd meeting. (pp. 67-68).
The Judge then asked about the relevance of Manafort's work for a potential candidate in Ukraine in 2018. Weismann replies:
"What is of interest to us that the questions in the polls are completely consistent with the ongoing effort at the very least by Mr. Klimnick to promote a _____________________. (this appears to be a reference to the Ukraine peace plan).....So the continuity of Mr. Kilimnick's interest........would be to facilitate Mr. Manafort being the -- that if he were the spokesperson, and denominated as such with in the United States, that he would also have access to senior people ___________________ -- that's as far as I can go on this record." (p. 69).
This poll was put together by both Kilimnick and Manafort. This goes to my theory that what they were doing is attempting to build a case that Ukrainians were ok with the Crimea annexation and the Manafort would pitch it to the Trump administration.
Page 84 of the transcript has perhaps the most explosive passage in this long, sometimes tedious, document. In a heavily redacted section, Weissman essentially tells the Judge that Manafort's motive to lie about his meetings with Kilimnick had to do with having implicated Trump and ending his shot at a pardon:
"Weissman (OSC). ....And our view is, that is a lie.....he [Manafort] knew what the Gates 302s were. It's obviously an extremely sensitive issue. And the motive, I think, is plain from the ____________, is we can see...what it is that he would be worried about which is that the reaction to the idea that ________________________(5.5 redacted lines) would have I think, negative consequences in terms of the other motive that Mr. Manafort could have, which is to at least augment his chances for a pardon."
The interpretation that I think fits best is that Manafort sang like a canary, admitting that he had shared polling data, obtained promises of Russian help for Trump's election, in exchange for pushing policies to Trump that Russia favored. He essentially admitted to collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which of course would not really make Trump likely to give him a pardon.
Here's something else that Andrew Weissman (SCO) stated to the Judge,
"... There are different aspects to what we have to look at, everyone is Russian efforts to interfere with election, and the others contacts, which ignore unwitting, by Americans with Russia, and then whether there was Contacts we're more intentional or not." He goes on to say, "and for us, the issue of ____________ (2 1/4 lines redacted) is in the core of what it is that the special counsel is supposed to be investigating." (pp. 85-86).
I think what we have here is that the OSC has built the legal case for 'collusion'. They didn't need Manafort to prove it, but they got enough out of him that they can cite his statements in his proffer in any future indictments or report so long as it is also subsequently backed up by other information (Gates and intel). I would think that an indictment of the Trump campaign org (which they referenced many times in the Roger Stone indictment) will be among the next steps.
4. Other DOJ Investigation (pp. 110-121)
There is another DOJ investigation, some of the events for which Manafort possesses knowledge. Like his other lies, he offered a fulsome statement in his proffer to get a deal, and then walked it back in later interviews and grand jury sessions. Some key passages have been redacted.
Manafort is alleged to have offered a version of events (post-plea deal) that downplayed ________'s role (Let's call him Mr. X) and/or his knowledge of a certain matter under investigation. The Manafort version of events was inconsistent with what he had said at the proffer stage and less incriminating of Mr.X than what he had said as part of his proffer.
This Mr. X is also talking to the FBI, and so the SCO/DOJ had a reference point to determine whether Manafort was lying.
The curious line here is on page 113, where Weissman says,
"... And it's in special agent Weiland's declaration, which is the way this initially came up is that we were asking questions about an email that [Mr. X] had written about a potential way of saving the candidate...... And this was a way of explaining away the email."
Weissman says that the SCO thinks Manafort he realized that this information wasn't going to help him and asked back the allegation so that there was no information that could be helpful with respect to Mr. X or the ___________ (redacted).
So who is the candidate? Why did he need to be saved? Who is this Mr. X?
Is Trump the candidate in question? Does this perhaps relate to the Access Hollywood controversy? Who among the Trumper crew is talking to the FBI that Manafort was trying to protect after initially throwing him under the bus? Roger Stone came to mind but he's not talking to the FBI. Who else?
5.Indirect Contacts with the Administration (pp. 121-132)
Manafort lied about not having indirect contacts with the Administration and asking such indirect contacts to communicate a message to the administration. Manafort told a Person Y that he knew people who had worked at some point for the Administration but were now out that he could tell those people to put in a good word for Person Y to Trump. Manafort contacted his 2 people (who were outside the Administration but had strong contacts in the WH) to tell the WH that 'Paul Manafort recommends Person Y'.
The key points here are that Manafort is looking to find ways to name drop himself to the Administration at a time that he is under legal scrutiny. This goes potentially goes to the issue of pardon shopping and then trying to cover that up or walk it back in front of the grand jury.
Greg Andres (SCO): "Judge, throughout the interviews with Mr. Manafort and some of the issues we discuss today, you see that he constantly either minimizes the information he has about the administration or any contact with the administration. So there is an issue whether or not during his cooperation he's communicating with ________________, or providing information about the questions or other things that are happening and special counsel's investigation, whether he's sharing that with other people." pp. 126-127.
Manafort changes his story to avoid implicating his connects and to distance himself from the administration at a time when he is under indictment.