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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Paul Manafort’s plea deal is gone for good, thanks to a finding from Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Manafort lied to the special counsel.

With his sentencing date of March 13 coming up quickly, and the possibility of a shorter sentence because of his plea deal out the window, Trump’s former campaign chairman is looking at the very real chance he might spend the rest of his life in jail.

Manafort took a plea deal back in September 2018. In that plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with the office of special counsel Robert Mueller. Except he didn’t. A mere two months later, Manafort was back in court, with Mueller’s team alleging he had lied to them and may have even been funneling information about the investigation directly to Trump.

And then Manafort was slapped with even more charges just last week, this time related to his work in Ukraine that he somehow managed to carry out while in jail.

Wednesday’s order from Jackson still contains significant factual gaps. The hearing that led up to this order was a closed hearing, and the filings have been heavily redacted. But it’s still possible to see the rough contours of what Manafort lied about.

First, there’s the tantalizing mention of “Firm A,” an entity that made a payment to a law firm, and about which Manafort lied. The order notes that the payment is a matter material to the special counsel’s investigation.

Next, the court found that the special counsel proved that Manafort intentionally lied to the FBI, the office of the special counsel, and the grand jury about his contact with shady consultant Konstantin Kilimnik, who appears to be tied to Russian intelligence.

Finally, the judge held that back in October 2018, Manafort intentionally lied about something material to a different Justice Department investigation.

Things may not remain a total mystery much longer. The judge’s order gives the parties exactly one day to tell the court of any redactions to the sealed hearing transcript. That transcript will then be released to the public no later than the morning of Feb. 15.

At root, the key takeaway here is that Manafort’s lies were substantial and in some way go to the heart of both the Mueller investigation and another investigation. They weren’t small lies or Manafort getting tripped up in his recollections. They were part of a sustained pattern of deception that went on for several months. And, come Friday, we might find out why Manafort was willing to throw away a plea deal over Firm A, Konstantin Kilimnik, and that unnamed DOJ investigation.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)