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United States special counsel adds charges against Manafort, indicts Russian operative

11 June 2018, 01:22 | Marta Robbins

Ex-Trump aide Paul Manafort faces more charges in Russia inquiry

Paul Manafort appears to be running out of ways to combat a key charge in the Mueller probe

Yesterday, Renato Mariotti and I wrote about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's move to revoke Paul Manafort's bail or modify his conditions of release on the basis of evidence that he, along with "Person A", attempted to tamper with witnesses in Manafort's case. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to a raft of charges, from money-laundering to failing to register as a foreign agent, to bank and tax fraud.

It names Konstantin Kilimnik, a Kiev resident with Russian and Ukrainian citizenships, as a co-conspirator of Manafort's in attempts to tamper with two potential witnesses at the upcoming trial.

Manafort and Kilimnik worked together on behalf of the former government of Ukraine, prosecutors say.

"Exhibits attached to the special counsel's filing support the defendant's position that the mission and work of the so-called Hapsburg Group was European-focused and that the text messages cited by the Special Counsel do not establish any witness tampering", Manafort's lawyer said in a filing Friday night.

Mr Mueller has yet to assert that Mr Manafort's Ukraine and Russian connections resulted in any election-meddling.

"You now have the former chairman of the Trump campaign charged with conspiring with a suspected Russian intelligence operative".

The charges are not directly related to the period in which Manafort led Donald Trump's presidential campaign, from June to August 2016. 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.

It looks like Paul Manafort is resorting to increasingly risky moves to avoid pleading guilty in the Russian Federation investigation. The dismissive nature of Manafort's response is maintained throughout the response.

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Manafort was exercising his freedom to disagree with the special counsel's legal theories, the attorneys said. Kilimnik also allegedly sought to contact witnesses in April.

In the summer of 2016, Manafort emailed Kilimnik and told him to offer private briefings on the US presidential campaign to Deripaska in an effort to resolve the dispute, people close to the situation have said.

Manafort is now out on house arrest and a $10 million unsecured bail.

Mr Trump made the comment at the White House on Friday morning (local time).

It was the third time Mueller had added to charges against Manafort since he was indicted in October.

Jackson previously gave Manafort a pass after federal agents found he had ghostwritten an opinion piece in Ukraine even though he was under a gag order in the case. The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said that Manafort and his attorneys were reviewing the new charges.

"They haven't been convicted of anything", Trump said, telling the media that he hasn't given any thought to the notion.



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