Paul Manafort's lawyer repeatedly briefed President Donald Trump's legal team about what his client was telling special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators, the New York Times reported Tuesday. The unusual communications caused tensions between the Mueller investigators and Manafort, who agreed to cooperate with the probe as part of a plea deal reached in September. The Times said that while the communications were not illegal, they were valuable to Trump's defense team and provided reassurance that Manafort was not implicating Trump, and could have be interpreted as setting the stage for a presidential pardon. On Monday, Mueller's team filed court papers saying Manafort violated his plea deal by lying to investigators, which could result in a stiffer prison sentence..
Rudy Giuliani, who represents Trump in the special counsel's investigation, confirmed the arrangement to the newspaper and argued that the conversations provided valuable insight.
Giuliani said Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, relayed that investigators pressed Manafort on what Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign associates and a Russian lawyer who had promised dirt on then-Democratic presidential candidate .
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