Paul Manafort unveils an odd excuse for his alleged witness tampering

Paul Manafort unveils an odd excuse for his alleged witness tampering

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III secured yet another indictment on Friday, hours after President Trump complained again about what he called "the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax".

Known for his smaller physical stature, Kilimnik was identified as "Person A" in a previous filing by Mueller's office and served as a "fixer" for Manafort while he worked for his firm, The New York Times reported in April.

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.

In previous court filings Mueller's team has referred to Kilimnik as "Person A", someone "who is now based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service". The "Hapsburg Group" referred to disdainfully by Manafort's attorneys is alleged by Mueller to be "a group of former senior European politicians who would act as third-party paid lobbyists for Ukraine".

New charges were also levied against Manafort, including obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. His co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Kilimnik was also involved in that episode.

However, Manafort hit back at what he called a dubious plot meant to corruptly persuade his former business associates to perjure themselves at the upcoming trial in September.

More news: Putin: Mueller Indictments Of Russians Driven By U.S

Mr. Manafort stands accused of illegal lobbying and laundering money from his work for Ukrainian clients, and of later lying to investigators to hide his conduct. Gates has said he understood the associate to a former officer with the Russian military intelligence service, prosecutors said, and others who worked with Manafort in Ukraine said that Kilimnik did not hide his intelligence background.

"From a scant record, the Special Counsel conjures a sinister plot to "corruptly persuade" two of Mr. Manafort's former business associates to perjure themselves at the upcoming trial in September", their filing said.

Manafort on Friday denied that he was attempting to change the testimonies of witnesses, citing a lack of evidence put forward by the special counsel. It's not clear exactly what Manafort knows, but he does appear to be a linchpin between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation. The court document did not name the two witnesses nor did it provide details of the allegation.

The charges mark the second time since October that an indictment against Manafort has been amended to include additional allegations.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson has scheduled a hearing for June 15 at which she ordered Manafort, prosecutors and witnesses to appear to deal with the alleged witness-tampering.

If there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia - the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton shows, at minimum, a willingness to collude - then Manafort might be privy to it.

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