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Manafort faces new charges in Russia probe

11 June, 2018, 14:13 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Mark Wilson  Getty Images North America

Spectacular Mueller holds may 2017 the proceedings on a wide range of issues, primarily concerning alleged interference by Moscow in the course of the US presidential race, but the first charges in this case, which he filed on 30 October Manafort not connected to his participation in the election campaign.

Manafort's attorneys argue in newly filed court papers that he never asked anyone to provide false testimony.

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, paving the way for the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller who's investigating Russian involvement in the election.

Kilimnik, widely believed to be a former agent for the Kremlin's top intelligence agency, GRU, has been working for Manafort in various capacities since they lobbied for Russia-backed ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the early 2000s.

Russia collusion investigator Robert Mueller socked former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with new obstruction of justice charges today, and also charged for the first time Manafort's Russian fixer Konstantin Kilimnik.

The new charges revolve around allegations that Manafort, 69, and Kilimnik, 47, tried to influence two public-relations executives involved in lobbying work in 2012 on behalf of Ukraine.

They could also be an effort by Mueller to induce a guilty plea and secure the testimony of a critical campaign adviser to Trump.

The witnesses placed op-eds from the politicians and arranged meetings for them in the United States and around the world, according to court papers. Manafort's lawyers had been given a deadline of Friday to respond to those charges.

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.

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

Investigators claimed that the "repeated" contacts occurred while Manafort was under house arrest, as a condition of his release pending the trials in Washington and Virginia.

It was the third time Mueller had added to charges against Manafort since he was indicted in October.

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.

Prosecutors say that the "P" in the message refers to Manafort and that the assertions in the texts are untrue. Kilimnik has denied such ties and characterized himself as "a random casualty because of my proximity to" Manafort.

Manafort has acknowledged staying in frequent contact with Kilimnik during the time he worked for Trump's campaign.

He was described as the intermediary through which Manafort volunteered to brief his onetime client, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, about the Trump campaign. The country was ousted from the leading group of industrialised nations in 2014 as punishment for President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

So in addition to the alleged conspiracy, money laundering, tax evasion and other charges brought against Manafort, he now faces charges that he allegedly obstructed justice and conspired to obstruct justice.

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