Mueller prosecutors accuse Manafort of witness tampering

Mueller prosecutors accuse Manafort of witness tampering

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, has been accused of attempting to tamper with witness testimony.

Manafort faces trial in July on charges of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in bank loans.

Prosecutors said a key participant in the effort to whitewash Manafort's lobbying work was his longtime associate in Ukraine, a person who people familiar with the matter identified as Konstantin Kilimnik.

"Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the goal of the program was European Union", the Manafort associate wrote in a February 28 WhatsApp message, according to the filings.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which includes conspiracy against the USA, money laundering, bank and wire fraud. "You can't get clearer than that", says former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mimi Rocah.

An associate of Manafort reached out to one of the witnesses to inform the person that "My friend P is trying to reach (a witness) to brief him on what's going on".

For one, prosecutors are likely to introduce evidence of witness tampering at Manafort's upcoming trial to show consciousness of guilt, or a guilty mind.

The two witnesses were also not named in court filings.

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Mueller charges that Manafort has attempted to "influence the testimony" of two potential witnesses in the special counsel's investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government.

Manafort has also been indicted on federal tax-related charges in Alexandria, Virginia.

Several members of the Hapsburg group have previously denied the allegations.

According to the filing in DC District Court on Monday night, one of the witnesses told investigators that Manafort wanted them to commit perjury about a lobbying effort they worked on for him in the US.

On Feb. 26, Manafort sent the person a series of messages through an encrypted application, including a link to a Business Insider story with the headline: "Former European leaders struggle to explain themselves after Mueller claims Paul Manafort paid them to lobby for Ukraine".

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson also set a hearing for June 15 where she will consider whether to revoke Manafort's house arrest and jail him while awaiting trial.

He is said to have made tens of millions of dollars from a campaign to bolster that government's reputation within Europe and the United States, but not to have registered this work. Unlike him, they have worked out plea deals with prosecutors and are co-operating with the main inquiry.

"Paul Manafort is really the last man standing", he told MSNBC, listing other campaign aides who have "flipped", including Mike Flynn, who served briefly as National Security Adviser, and George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

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