Mueller probe: Manafort, Russian fixer Kilimnik charged with obstruction

09 June, 2018, 21:34 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Former Manafort colleagues told Mueller he attempted to influence their testimony report

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., earlier this week alleging that Manafort attempted to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release, including attempting to contact two people identified in documents as D1 and D2 by cellphone and encrypted messaging. Manafort has longstanding ties to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin. Mr. Manafort does not know the individuals that the Special Counsel intends to call at his trial. Kilimnik, who prosecutors say lives in Moscow, was not in US custody Friday.

The court filing argued Manafort did not violate the conditions imposed on him when he was placed under house arrest in October. It only means that Manafort will have to answer for his alleged witness tampering in two ways, with respect to bail and at trial. A hearing is set for next week.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee which recently concluded its own controversial Russian Federation investigation, said Manafort's actions show he is running out of options. The Special Counsel has not provided Mr. Manafort with its witness list.

Mariotti also highlighted how unusual it was for a defendant like Manafort, who is being monitored and is facing federal charges, to make such a risky move while awaiting trial.

Kilimnik, 48, has previously declined to comment on the allegations.

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Court papers show the witnesses told investigators they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about their work with a group of former European politicians known as the Hapsburg group. One project was to assemble a team of European political leaders who could advocate for Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych - apparently independently.

Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager during a crucial portion of the campaign, had already been charged with several counts of money laundering, tax evasion, and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Mueller has now brought more than 100 criminal charges against 20 people. There are four former campaign associates among the indicted - Michael Flynn, Richard Gates, George Papadopoulos and Manafort. "He charged the former chair of Trump's campaign and a suspected Russian intel operative with conspiracy", he said.

In addition, one of the officials said, Kilimnik's reported trips to the U.S.in May and August 2016 during Trump's campaign have "attracted attention" as to whether Manafort and Kilimnik tried to capitalize on Manafort's campaign role by offering Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska private briefings.

The 69-year-old denies all charges against him.

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