Previously secret ‘alternative’ Mueller report becomes public

The report focuses on the work of what was known within Mueller’s office as “Team M,” a group of investigators and prosecutors focused on the ties between Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and businessmen and politicians friendly to Russia.

The report details contacts between Manafort, his longtime campaign aide and business partner Rick Gates and pro-Russian businessmen. He argues that Manafort, who worked for Trump’s campaign without pay, expected his financial situation to improve because of his ties to a possible Trump administration.

Mueller’s prosecutors say in the report that Manafort and Gates worked closely during the period with a Russian-Ukrainian political adviser who the FBI said had close ties to Russian intelligence, Konstantin Kilimnik.

After the US election, the men reportedly discussed via email the possibility of getting Trump to offer “a very minor ‘wink’ (or nudge)” that could kick off a peace process in Ukraine with Manafort as US Special Representative. Manafort and Kilimnik were then involved in a poll on a peace plan that “Manafort recognized as a back door way for Russia to gain control of eastern Ukraine,” the report said.

A senior deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Andrew Weissmann, revealed in a book published in 2020 that the team he led had prepared a summary of all their work – apparently including details not contained in the final report that Mueller has submitted and which the Department of Justice made public in 2019.

“At least for posterity, I had all the [team] members…wrote an internal report memorizing everything we found, our findings, and the limitations of the investigation, and provided it to the other team leaders and kept it for our files,” Weissmann wrote. in his book, “Where the Law Stops: Inside the Mueller Investigation.”

At a jury trial in Virginia in 2018 on charges brought by Mueller’s office, Manafort was found guilty of eight crimes, including filing false tax returns and bank fraud. A mistrial was declared on 10 other counts after jurors split 11-1 in favor of a conviction on those counts.

As a second trial neared for Manafort in Washington on other charges brought by Mueller’s team, the longtime political consultant and lobbyist agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. In the plea agreement, he admitted his guilt to all the charges against him.

Manafort was sentenced to prison terms totaling around seven and a half years, but was sent home after two years in 2020 as part of a series of pandemic-related home releases.

Just before Christmas of that year, Trump granted Manafort a full pardon for the criminal charges. However, last month Florida Department of Justice attorneys filed a civil suit against him seeking around $3 million in allegedly unpaid fines related to his failure to report offshore bank accounts.

Manafort told POLITICO last month that he was again accepting paid clients and offering what he called “general business advice.” Manafort also stressed that he strongly supports Ukraine in its position against the ongoing Russian invasion.

The New York Times requested the so-called shadow Mueller report under the Freedom of Information Act early last year and filed suit in July after the Justice Department failed to do so. published.

In a letter Wednesday to a Manhattan federal judge overseeing the lawsuit, Times attorney David McCraw said the newspaper was still studying the document and considering challenging the redactions.

“The Times has received the Department of Justice production, which it is currently reviewing,” McCraw wrote.

The redacted document released this week says that when the report was prepared, its authors also wrote a “classified appendix.” The status of this classified file is unclear.

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.

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