Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

How Paul Manafort is connected to Trump, Russia investigation

How Paul Manafort is connected to Trump, Russia investigation

The charges come just days after prosecutors accused the two men of attempting to tamper with witnesses as Manafort awaits trial on felony charges related to his work on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

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.

Manafort's lawyers responded to those allegations in a sharply worded filing late Friday, accusing Mueller of contriving "dubious allegations" of witness tampering and, in so doing, poisoning the jury pool ahead of his trials. "We will do our talking in court". The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Friday that Manafort and his attorneys were reviewing the new charges.

The charges could be an effort by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to induce a guilty plea and secure the testimony of a critical campaign adviser to Trump.

Kilimnik worked with Manafort in Ukraine during that time, and during the 2016 election they were reportedly in regular contact.

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Shortly after, Mueller's team said this week, Manafort and Kilimnik called and sent encrypted texts to two public relations individuals, attempting to persuade them to characterize the pro-Ukraine lobbying work they'd done together as limited to Europe. The witnesses and Kilimnik (originally named in court docs as Person A) were implicated in coordinating this plot.

In addition, the formal obstruction of justice charges bolster Mueller's overall case against Manafort.

Manafort's attorneys said Friday the new charges on based on slim evidence: an 84-second phone call and text messages between Manafort and the two former business associates. It isn't clear yet whether Kilimnik might appear in court in Washington.

"Going to the grand jury for a superseding indictment underlines how serious the government is about Manafort's conduct, " said Joyce Vance, a USA attorney in Alabama during the Barack Obama administration.

The men continued to work together for a successor party to Yanukovych's after he fled Ukraine in February 2014 amid protests of his regime's corruption and pivot toward Moscow, eventually arriving in Russian Federation and effectively ending his presidency. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Deripaska is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and signed a $10 million annual contract with Manafort in 2006; they maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.

Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence asset, is now under the protection of Moscow and unlikely to ever see an American court room.

Prosecutors have used superseding indictments before to add new charges on Manafort. Earlier this week, Mueller described Person A's ties to Russian intelligence as "active" during the 2016 election. The politicians lobbied members of Congress and executive-branch officials on Ukraine in coordination with Manafort and his longtime deputy and former co-defendant, Rick Gates, according to prosecutors.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, was promoted to campaign manager in May 2016, and stayed until August 2016, having played a major role during the Republican National Convention. The July 2016 offer referred to Oleg Deripaska, who has accused Manafort of defrauding him as part of a multimillion-dollar deal several years ago.

"This is an alleged Russian spy committing crimes with the former campaign chairman for Trump", Mariotti said.

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