In a major new twist in the 2016 poll, a judge on Wednesday ruled that the former chairman of Trump's election campaign "deliberately lied to investigators and broke an agreement he had made as a cooperating witness.
The lies, including discussions with a suspected Russian intelligence agency, were about issues closely related to Mueller's subsequent investigation. This includes investigating the links between the Trump campaign and the efforts of the Russian elections.
The new Manafort bomb would have shaken any presidency in its isolation as it played a leading role in the Trump campaign. But for a White House as mistrustfully concealed as this House, after two years of startling revelations about Moscow's interference in the election, it is still bad news that will fuel a feverish atmosphere and further pressure Trump's inner circle ,
Müller has not yet provided evidence of a plot or collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russians, despite receiving convictions and guilty pleas from a number of former Presidential aides.
But the developments on Wednesday will seem even more devastating given the many lies, changes in history, and the concealment of other Trump confidants through contacts with Russian officials or private citizens.
These include former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn with the then Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, Donald Trump Jr.'s changing history of a meeting with Russians promising Hillary Clinton's "Dirt", and the president's own misconceptions about a proposed construction project In Moscow.
None of this activity is necessarily illegal, which makes it even harder to understand why there is an obvious need for cover-up.
"This is the million-dollar question throughout the investigation," said Mike Rogers, an Alabama Republican who is a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time." "All you have to do is ask, why did they all lied about their ties to the Russians?"
Manafort is "doomed to fail"
The judge's ruling represents a personal tragedy for Manafort, 69, once a high-flying, towering lobbyist in an ostrich coat jacket who broke millions in consultancy fees and huge debts before joining Trump's team.
"For Paul Manafort, it's fate," said CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin, pointing out the likelihood that the existing jail term of increasingly frail former political activists is likely to be extended for tax and banking fraud. The end result could mean he dies behind bars.
But the broader legal and political implications of the verdict are also astounding and will likely rekindle the speculation about the settlement that Trump may expect from Mueller's final report.
The ruling partly refers to a meeting between Manafort and Kilimnik at a cigar bar in Manhattan on 2 August 2016. Thanks to a botched legal deposit by the lawyers of Manafort, it has become known that Mueller believes that Manafort shared election data and shared Ukraine has spoken policy with Kilimnik.
In a sealed hearing last week, a Mueller prosecutor, Andrew Weissman, told Jackson that Manafort's meeting with Kilimnik "went to the heart of what the special envoy's office is investigating."
Jackson responded to Manafort's plea bargain and ruled that he also lied over $ 125,000 he received for legal bills and undisclosed investigative work from the Department of Justice. She decided that Muller's team could not prove that Manafort had lied in two other matters-contacts to White House officials, or Kilimnik's role in influencing witnesses.
Manafort's lawyer argued that her client had not deliberately lied about anything.
But it is the interaction of Manafort, Kilimnik, who will raise most of the questions in the coming days amid mounting speculation that Muller is nearing the end of his investigation.
For example, did Manafort lie because he was simply proved to be an innate liar, as evidenced by months of court cases ending in a conviction for bank and tax fraud?
Or did he have a scary destination?
Was he trying to cover up misconduct that was essential to investigate whether there was cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians? So, could his obstacle be part of an attempt to protect the president in the hope of forgiveness?
Or he simply acted independently and tried to compete with Eastern European key figures to mitigate his own plight and financial investment, given his multi-million dollar debt to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
"There seems to be two reasons why he can do it – one believes he can apologize," said John Dean, White House lawyer to President Richard Nixon, at the time of Watergate on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" , "
"The second reason he could lie … is the fear for his life and the welfare of his own family … he played with Russian heavyweights who do not like anyone to testify against them and testify against them or theirs Reveals secrets, "said Dean.
Former White House Trump lawyer James Schultz, who is currently a CNN legal analyst, wondered if Manafort was in the official business or just trying to solve his personal problems with Kilimnik.
"Does it have anything to do with trying to help the campaign, or has he tried to repay a debt he owes?" Schultz said in relation to Manafort's alleged transfer of query data.
"Did he act as election chairman in the context of his duties or did he try to protect Paul Manafort?" Schultz asked for CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360".
So, was Manafort working with Kilimnik to revive his once-lucrative business dealings in Ukraine, where he worked for pro-Russian politicians or wanted to coordinate with Russia to influence the election?
The answer to this question could help to show whether the most alarming interpretations of the unfathomable connections between Trump employees and Russia are part of a wider conspiracy or just a network of gloomy, personal ties.
Müller already knew the answer.