Manafort, Russian Associate Indicted in Obstruction Case

Paul Manafort appears to be running out of ways to combat a key charge in the Mueller probe

None of the charges against Manafort are related to Russian interference in the 2016 elections or any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which Mueller was originally appointed to investigate.

"Mr. Manafort asked no one to provide a false affidavit or false testimony at trial, or perjure themselves, and he has not given - nor offered to give - any potential witness anything in exchange for false testimony", the response said.

In a biting, nine-page filing Friday evening, Manafort's attorneys denied the allegations and accused Mueller's team of conjuring up "a sinister plot" from a scant record of telephone calls and de-encrypted texts.

The indictment took the number of people indicted by the 13-month-old investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller to 20, with three companies also indicted.

The case now accuses both Manafort and Kilimnik, 48, of Moscow, of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, meaning they allegedly worked together to contact two possible witnesses in Manafort's case since February.

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller has filed new criminal charges against President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Manafort associate with alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

The new indictment was unsealed Friday against Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik just days after prosecutors accused the two men of attempting to tamper with witnesses, as Manafort awaits trial of felony charges related to his work on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

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.

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The additional charges could add to pressure on Manafort to cut a deal and cooperate with Mueller's probe, legal experts said.

Almost four months later, in February, the pair was hit with additional tax evasion and bank fraud charges.These charges involved much of the same conduct Manafort and Gates were initially accused of, but the amount of money Manafort said to have laundered through offshore accounts increased to $30 million. He faces a second trial in Washington, D.C., in September.

Manafort messaged and called one of the witnesses shortly after he and business partner Rick Gates were indicted a year ago on a slew of charges related to their Ukrainian political activities, according to court papers. "You now have the former chairman of the Trump campaign charged with conspiring with a suspected Russian intelligence operative".

Manafort has maintained his innocence despite all of the charges brought before him.

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

Manafort worked with a lobbying firm that enlisted former European politicians, the so-called Hapsburg group, who wrote articles and addressed US politicians. Kilimnik has denied such ties. One project was to assemble a team of European political leaders who could advocate for Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych - apparently independently. He has been charged with money laundering, tax and bank fraud, and conspiracy in two federal cases as part of Mueller's ongoing probe. "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".

He has said he met with Kilimnik in person in May 2016 and again in August 2016 in New York City, about two weeks before Manafort resigned as Trump's campaign chairman.

The president has consistently downplayed Manafort's role in this campaign leading up to his general election victory in 2016.

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