June 21, 2018

Mueller Adds Obstruction Charge on Manafort and Indicts His Right-Hand Man

09 June 2018, 02:19 | Taylor George

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

Robert Mueller hits ex Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with third indictment that also charges Russian operative

Special counsel Robert Mueller has brought additional charges against President Donald Trump's campaign chairman and a longtime associate who prosecutors have said has ties to Russian intelligence. For example, a headline on the conservative Daily Caller website read: "Mueller issues new indictment against Manafort and Ukrainian business partner that have nothing to do with collusion". Moreover, several court documents filed by Mueller's prosecutors refer to Kilimnik as having "ties" to Russian intelligence organizations. He also is facing a separate federal case in Alexandria, Va., just outside D.C. The special counsel's office may hope that Manafort decides to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors by offering evidence against other people.

Manafort is expected to file his response to the witness tampering allegation in federal court Friday.

Both witnesses were part of the Hapsburg Group, a collection of former European leaders paid by Manafort to lobby on behalf of Ukraine in the European Union and in the US.

Manafort allegedly sent one of the executives a text that said: "We should talk". The article said, among other things, that the Hapsburg Group worked in the United States and in Europe. It isn't clear yet whether Kilimnik might appear in court in Washington.

In the days that followed and through April, Manafort and Kilimnik suggested the two witnesses who worked on the Hapsburg group project say the group focused on Europe and "never lobbied in the U.S.", according to an encrypted message between Kilimnik and one witness that prosecutors obtained.

Mueller's office said the government had "developed substantial evidence showing that the Hapsburg group performed a variety of lobbying tasks in the United States", which included disseminating ghostwritten articles in the American media and arranging meetings with USA officials and politicians. For that reason, it's unlikely he would have been able to dodge the FARA charge even if the witnesses had agreed to alter their testimony. The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Friday that Manafort and his attorneys were reviewing the new charges.

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Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller investigation a "witch hunt" and denied any collusion with Russian Federation.

"It's a big development and a sign Manafort is willing to try anything, do anything, and he's facing some serious time", Schiff told CNN on Monday.

"I was a federal prosecutor for nearly a decade ..."

"This guy walks into a courtroom and said, "prove that I'm guilty".

The witnesses would eventually rat out Manafort and Kilimnik to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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