None of the charges against Manafort are related to Russian interference in the 2016 elections or any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which Mueller was originally appointed to investigate. They said nothing governing the terms of their client's pretrial release prevents him from having contact with anyone, that the apps, which encrypt messages, that Manafort used are commonplace and that he'd asked no one to produce a false affidavit or false testimony at trial.
US President Donald Trump's former election campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's associate, who has been linked to Russian intelligence, have been charged with two obstruction of justice counts after prosecutors said they interfered with witnesses in an investigation.
The U.S.is now charging Manafort and the associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, with obstructing justice and conspiring to get potential witnesses to lie about lobbying work they'd done for Ukraine.
Kilimnik, according to court papers, wrote a message to the other executive two days later saying: "Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the United States, and the goal of the program was European Union". The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Friday that Manafort and his attorneys were reviewing the new charges.
The witnesses, who had worked with Manafort as he represented a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, have told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about the nature of their work.
"From a scant record, the Special Counsel conjures a sinister plot to "corruptly persuade" two of Mr. Manafort's former business associates to perjure themselves at the upcoming trial in September", their filing said.
Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence asset, is now under the protection of Moscow and unlikely to ever see an American court room.
By adding Kilimnik to the running charges against Manafort, Mueller bolsters his argument for tearing up Manafort's bail deals, according to Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Arent Fox LLP in Washington.
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It was the third time Mueller had added to charges against Manafort since he was indicted in October. Kilimnik, who prosecutors say lives in Moscow, was not in USA custody Friday.
According to the witnesses, Manafort and Kilimnik appeared to be pressuring them to say the Hapsburg group only worked in Europe, when they knew that they had been secretly paid to lobby in the U.S. Several of the politicians involved have denied any wrongdoing.
Eventually, Manafort was hired by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a controversial pro-Russia politician who was ousted from power twice.
The judge in Manafort's case rebuked Mueller's team during a hearing in early May, saying that the prosecutors are more interested in taking down Trump than securing a conviction against Manafort.
According to documents posted in the electronic database of the court, Manafort and kilimnik accused of attempting to obstruct justice, perjury, conspiracy to obstruct the authorities and conspiracy to commit money laundering, reports TASS.
Kilimnik worked for Manafort's longtime business partner, Rick Gates, when they served as political consultants in Ukraine. "Closer scrutiny of this 'evidence" reveals that the Special Counsel's allegations are without merit because Mr. Manafort's limited communications can not be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness".
On Friday, Trump wouldn't rule out pardoning Manafort.
Mueller's office filed court papers Monday accusing Manafort of witness tampering.