'Motherf—–': Former Mueller prosecutor describes the moment his team nailed Paul Manafort for financial fraud

  • Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor on the special counsel Robert Mueller's team, vividly detailed in his upcoming book the moment he uncovered damning evidence that helped incriminate former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for financial fraud.
  • "Motherf—–," one FBI agent on Mueller's team said when Weissmann showed him what he'd found.
  • Another prosecutor "let out a freewheeling hoot" when she saw the evidence, Weissmann writes. "If this holds up," Weissmann told them, "he's dead."
  • Manafort was ultimately convicted of 18 counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. He also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction.
  • He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison last year, notching a high-profile victory for Mueller's team.
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"Motherf—–."

That's how an FBI agent on the special counsel Robert Mueller's team reacted when a prosecutor showed him evidence he'd uncovered that would be instrumental in nailing Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, for financial fraud.

The prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, detailed the moment in his upcoming memoir, "Where Law Ends." Insider obtained an early copy of the book, which will be released to the public Tuesday.

The document Weissmann uncovered was an email between Manafort and his tax preparer that included a series of questions the preparer sent Manafort while working on his annual tax returns.

One of the questions asked whether he had any offshore bank accounts, which he was legally mandated to report to the government. Manafort replied: "None."

"It was the kind of dramatic evidence we called a 'hot' document — or what I called a 'summation' document, meaning it was so compelling that it should be used in our closing argument to a jury," Weissmann's book says.

Manafort's reply "was false — a critical piece of evidence to prove Manafort's intent," it continues. "This back-and-forth made it impossible for Manafort to credibly claim that he didn't know he was required to report his foreign bank accounts; here, his accountant was asking him to provide that information for his return, and Manafort was clearly lying and saying he had no foreign accounts to report."

Weissmann writes that he "ran next door" to the FBI agent, Omer Meisel, "and showed him what I found."

"Motherf—–," Omer said, according to the book. Both men then showed the email to three others working on the Manafort case. "If this holds up," Weissmann told them, "he's dead," the book says.

"I shared it with Jeannie Rhee, the Team R leader, next, who let loose with a freewheeling hoot," Weissmann writes. "Team R" refers to the unit of Mueller's team that was tasked with investigating Russia's election interference in 2016. Weissmann led "Team M," which was responsible for investigating Manafort. A third unit, called "Team 600," spearheaded Mueller's obstruction-of-justice probe.

Weissmann writes that after showing it to his colleagues, he set off to inform Mueller of his findings, "trotting down the hall like a proud hound with a pheasant in its mouth."

"'Guess what I found,' I told him, and began to lay out the story. When I finished, Mueller gave me a slight, barely perceptible nod. 'Good,' he said," according to the book.

Mueller's office ultimately charged Manafort with several crimes in two cases, one in Virginia and the second in Washington, DC.

In Virginia, Manafort was charged with multiple counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. He was convicted of eight of 18 total counts.

In the second case, brought in Washington, DC, he struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction.

Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison in the Virginia case. US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 60 months for the first count in the Washington, DC case, with 30 months concurrent with his sentence in the Virginia case. For the second count, Jackson sentenced Manafort to 13 months in prison. In total, Manafort was sentenced to 90 months, or 7 1/2 years, in prison.

"Mr. Manafort committed crimes that undermined our political process," Weissmann told the court at Manafort's sentencing hearing in March 2019.

He also emphasized how serious it was for Manafort to illegally lobby for foreign governments on US soil. "It is hard to imagine a more righteous prosecution of this act," Weissmann said, adding that it is not the first time someone has been prosecuted for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Weissmann also pointed to the crimes Manafort committed after already being charged in the Russia investigation.

"After being indicted, while on bail from two federal courts in a high-profile matter," Manafort engaged in criminal conduct that "goes to the heart of the American justice system," Weissmann said.

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