'Obstruction of Justice' Charge as Mueller Hits Manafort With New Indictment

Former Manafort colleagues told Mueller he attempted to influence their testimony report

The document formally charges Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, who ran Manafort's office in Ukraine and has alleged ties to Russian intelligence, with witness tampering in the case.

Kilimnik, also a political consultant, specifically helped Manafort and Gates in their effort to elect Party of Regions candidate Viktor Yanukovych to Ukraine's presidency and to help him lobby the U.S between 2006 and 2014. His co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. The Special Counsel has not provided Mr. Manafort with its witness list.

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.

"What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment".

The motion by Manafort's legal team maintained that Manafort's former "Habsburg Group" did not do lobbying work for the United States and focused instead on "promoting the idea of a Ukraine that is closer to Europe than to Russian Federation and to recognize the path toward electoral and economic reforms". One of the witnesses in touch with Manafort this year told prosecutors he believed Manafort wanted to "suborn perjury", the previous filing said.

On Friday, Trump also dismissed any talk of pardoning Manafort or his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is under investigation by federal prosecutors in NY.

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.

Earlier this week, Mueller's office accused Manafort of attempting to get witnesses to lie for him in court.

Mr Manafort, who has also been indicted in a federal courts in Virginia, has been charged with an array of allegations from money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent, to bank and tax fraud. They maintain the communications cited by the prosecutors "do not establish any witness tampering.'" They add that Manafort's right to an impartial jury in Washington "may have been irreparably damaged by the Special Counsel's. very public and very specious" motion. Additionally, Manafort made one 84-second phone call to Person D1 on February 24. It's not clear exactly what Manafort knows, but he does appear to be a linchpin between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

Perhaps more important is that an alleged line from the Russian government to the Trump campaign could be getting clearer.

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