New charges filed against Paul Manafort in Russia probe

Saul Bowman
June 11, 2018

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller strengthened his case against Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort with new charges filed Friday.

The new charges against both men - known as a superseding indictment - alleges that they sought to tamper with witnesses ahead of Mr Manafort's trial next month. The work is the basis for the criminal case in Washington where Manafort faces charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, money-laundering conspiracy and false statements.

Mueller on Friday filed obstruction of justice charges against Manafort and his business deputy, Konstantin Kilimnik.

Almost four months later, in February, the pair was hit with additional tax evasion and bank fraud charges.These charges involved much of the same conduct Manafort and Gates were initially accused of, but the amount of money Manafort said to have laundered through offshore accounts increased to $30 million. One project was to assemble a team of European political leaders who could advocate for Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych - apparently independently.

The president has consistently downplayed Manafort's role in this campaign leading up to his general election victory in 2016.

Mr Manafort is the most senior member of Mr Trump's campaign to be indicted, though the charges do not relate to campaign activities.

"Manafort and Kilimnik repeatedly contacted Persons D1 and D2 in an effort to secure materially false testimony", prosecutors alleged in court papers.

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

Gates reached a plea deal in February and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

Manafort is now under house arrest.

The witnesses have told investigators that they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about the nature of his Ukrainian political work.

Manafort has acknowledged staying in frequent contact with Kilimnik during the time he worked for Trump's campaign.

On Tuesday he asked that Mr Manafort be detained in jail, claiming that he had been using encrypted communication to try to coach two potential witnesses' testimonies.

February 23 is the date that Manafort's longtime associate, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to two charges stemming from the Mueller investigation. The previously pending charges against Manafort of course had nothing to do with the synthetic collusion hyseteria over the 2016 election. They accused Mueller of conjuring up a "sinister plot" and said the allegations were meant to generate widespread - and intensely negative - media coverage of Manafort. "You now have the former chairman of the Trump campaign charged with conspiring with a suspected Russian intelligence operative".

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also downplayed Manafort's involvement with the campaign in a press briefing.

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