Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

U.S. prosecutors file charges against alleged Russian spy in Manafort case

New Indictment Filed Against Paul Manafort Names Ally With Russian Intel Ties New Indictment Filed Against Paul Manafort Names Ally With Russian Intel Ties
Charlie Simmons | 11 June, 2018, 14:15

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

Manafort's attorneys denied the allegations and accused special counsel Robert Mueller of conjuring up "a sinister plot" from a scant record of telephone calls and de-encrypted texts.

Manafort was simply exercising his freedom to disagree with the special counsel's legal theories, the attorneys said.

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.

US President Donald Trump's former election campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's associate, who has been linked to Russian intelligence, have been charged with two obstruction of justice counts after prosecutors said they interfered with witnesses in an investigation.

Manafort and a confidante - later revealed to be Konstantin Kilimnik in a new indictment released Friday - asked the two former business associates to claim lobbying work they did for Ukraine only happened in Europe, and not in the United States. Kilimnik was considered by investigators to have been involved trying to set this up, according to The Washington Post last September. Manafort's lawyers would find the hard work of trial preparation even more challenging with their client in jail, Zeidenberg said.

The indictment serves a strategic goal in raising public awareness about the connections that those who worked on Trump's campaign had with Russians, and it serves a legal objective by putting more pressure on Manafort to become a cooperating witness, said Katie Phang, a former prosecutor and partner at the Berger Singerman LLP law firm in Miami. The group's lobbying work included advocacy on behalf of Yanukovych in Washington, D.C., with members of Congress and officials in the executive branch.

Kilimnik has denied to journalists that he has any connection to Russian intelligence.

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Paul Manafort leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C. on February 28, 2018.

Before Kilimnik was identified by name in charges on Friday, he had made multiple appearances in Mueller's filings as an unidentified intermediary for Manafort.

Prosecutors say that the "P" in the message refers to Manafort and that the assertions in the texts are untrue.

Mueller previously charged Manafort in two separate lawsuits with conspiring to launder money, lying to investigators, committing tax and bank fraud, and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Manafort worked with a lobbying firm that enlisted former European politicians, the so-called Hapsburg group, who wrote articles and addressed US politicians. "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". His co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors.

Mueller's office filed court papers Monday accusing Manafort of witness tampering. Manafort has longstanding ties to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin.

Emails show that during the middle of the campaign, Manafort told Kilimnik he was willing to provide "private briefings" about Trump's presidential run to a billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

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