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09 June 2018, 09:35 | Darnell Patrick
"Specifically it adds charges that Manafort and Kilimnik conspired to obstruct justice by working together to tamper with witnesses".
The office of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted Russians before in its Russia investigation, but so far none of them have been extradited to face the charges inside the United States. Prosecutors have previously said Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, which he denies.
The indictment charges that former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and his political party retained lobbyists through Manafort to serve as intermediaries with the former European politicians.
New charges were also levied against Manafort, including obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Four people, including Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, have pleaded guilty. Because as Renato and I detailed in our piece yesterday, for bail purposes the judge must only determine by the relatively low probable cause standard that Manafort attempted to tamper with witnesses.
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.
For Manafort though, the charges come at a perilous time, just hours before his lawyers were due to file legal briefs explaining why he should be allowed to remain free on bond pending his trial scheduled for next month in Alexandria, Virginia.
The motion by Manafort's legal team maintained that Manafort's former "Habsburg Group" did not do lobbying work for the United States and focused instead on "promoting the idea of a Ukraine that is closer to Europe than to Russian Federation and to recognize the path toward electoral and economic reforms".
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The alleged cover-up stems from work Manafort, Kilimnik and others did with former European politicians referred to informally as the "Hapsburg group", to advocate on Ukraine's behalf to USA and European officials.
In Friday's indictment, Mueller accused Kilimnik of taking part in the covert lobbying scheme and of trying to influence potential witnesses. In addition, the filing says, Manafort's right to a fair trial by impartial jury "may have been irreparably damaged by the Special Counsel's latest, very public and very specious, filing of this motion".
He was described as the intermediary through which Manafort volunteered to brief his onetime client, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, about the Trump campaign.
Paul Manafort leaves the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after a status conference on November 2, 2017.
Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik traded emails throughout the 2016 presidential campaign - even appearing to discuss the financial benefit Manafort's high level position could bring, according to the report.
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