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Special counsel Mueller indicts Manafort, Russian associate on obstruction charges

09 June, 2018, 21:33 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Former Manafort colleagues told Mueller he attempted to influence their testimony report

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III secured yet another indictment on Friday, hours after President Trump complained again about what he called "the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax".

Manafort's longtime business associate in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik, was also indicted on the same charge.

Prosecutors have accused Mr Kilimnik of having links to Russian intelligence. One project was to assemble a team of European political leaders who could advocate for Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych - apparently independently. His co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

However, Manafort hit back at what he called a dubious plot meant to corruptly persuade his former business associates to perjure themselves at the upcoming trial in September.

"In fact, nothing in the Release Order bars Mr. Manafort from communicating with others, whether those individuals are possible witnesses at his trial or otherwise". Originally set for July 10, the trial will begin on July 24.

The alleged fraud dates to the time Manafort did lobbying work for the Pro-Moscow Party of Regions political party in Ukraine.

The alleged cover-up stems from work Manafort, Kilimnik and others did with former European politicians referred to informally as the "Hapsburg group", to advocate on Ukraine's behalf to US and European officials.




The conspiracy charges were added as courts six and seven to the indictment in federal district court in Washington, D.C.

He added: "That evidence would likely be extremely damaging to Manafort at trial-if he was innocent, why would he try to engage in witness tampering?"

Mr Manafort is also charged with money laundering, illegal foreign lobbying, and lying to federal officials.

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.

He was described as the intermediary through which Manafort volunteered to brief his onetime client, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, about the Trump campaign.

Emails show that during the middle of the campaign, Manafort told Kilimnik he was willing to provide "private briefings" about Trump's presidential run to a billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The document played down the notion that an 84-second telephone call and a few text messages between Manafort and an unnamed associate - referred to as "Person A" - and two former business associates, was grounds for tampering with evidence.

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