Manafort and ally with Russian intel ties face new obstruction charges

11 June, 2018, 14:16 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Paul Manafort appears to be running out of ways to combat a key charge in the Mueller probe

President TrumpDonald John Trump McCain rips Trump over trade, tells allies: "Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn't" Head of Canada's auto parts industry association mocks Trump's threat of auto tariffs Dem leaders condemn Trump after reversal on G-7 communique endorsement MORE " s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Sunday that he thinks former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNew leak indictment spells disaster for McCabe Our "Not Me" politics of personal grievance The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by PhRMA - Washington's week of "we'll see' MORE could be prosecuted as a result of a report from the Justice Department's (DOJ) internal watchdog that is expected to be released next week.

Manafort's attorneys argue in newly filed court papers that he never asked anyone to provide false testimony.

But in a biting, nine-page filing Friday evening, Manafort's attorneys denied the allegations and accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller III's team of conjuring up "a sinister plot" from a scant record of telephone calls and de-encrypted texts.

"The indictment serves a strategic objective in raising public awareness about the connections that those who worked on Trump's campaign had with Russians, and it serves a legal goal by putting more pressure on Manafort to become a cooperating witness", the story says.

The new indictment charges Manafort and Kilimnik with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice related to contacts they had with two witnesses earlier this year.

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.

Paul Manafort's legal team pushes back against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, after fresh obstruction charges were put on him.

The witnesses placed op-eds from the politicians and arranged meetings for them in the United States and around the world, according to court papers. The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said that Manafort and his attorneys were reviewing the new charges.

It also marked the first time Kilimnik, who in previous court filings was referred to only as "Person A" and described as having links to Russian spy agencies, was named.

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The expanded criminal allegations ratchet up the pressure Manafort faces to cut a deal with the special counsel's office as he awaits two criminal trials.

The new indictment filed Friday asserts that Manafort and Kilimnik engaged in the obstruction scheme from February 23 through April.

The FBI has assessed that Kilimnik had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, including during the 2016 presidential campaign when Manafort and Gates were in contact with him, prosecutors have said in court filings. The previously pending charges against Manafort of course had nothing to do with the synthetic collusion hyseteria over the 2016 election. Kilimnik, who prosecutors say lives in Moscow, was not in US custody Friday.

A hearing on the matter has been set for June 15.

In addition, the formal obstruction of justice charges bolster Mueller's overall case against Manafort. Manafort has longstanding ties to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin.

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.

Mueller has accused Manafort of attempting to call, text and send encrypted messages in February to two people from "The Hapsburg Group", a political discussion group he allegedly worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine, in an effort to influence their testimony or hide evidence in the case. "Closer scrutiny of this 'evidence" reveals that the Special Counsel's allegations are without merit because Mr. Manafort's limited communications can not be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness". Gates is cooperating with prosecutors against Manafort.

On Friday, Trump wouldn't rule out pardoning Manafort.

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