Manafort calls new obstruction charges 'dubious'

Manafort calls new obstruction charges 'dubious'

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed new criminal charges on Friday against President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort while also indicting a longtime associate of Manafort's with alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Kilimnik-a Ukrainian man who used to serve in the Soviet army and learned English at a school run by military intelligence-worked for the Russians.

The latest charges increase Manafort's legal jeopardy if he continues a battle with prosecutors.

Manafort could have violated federal laws if he lobbied for the ex-Ukrainian leader in the USA without registering as a foreign agent. Manafort's lawyers would find the hard work of trial preparation even more challenging with their client in jail, Zeidenberg said.

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.

The judge in Manafort's case rebuked Mueller's team during a hearing in early May, saying that the prosecutors are more interested in taking down Trump than securing a conviction against Manafort.

"The indictment serves a strategic objective in raising public awareness about the connections that those who worked on Trump's campaign had with Russians, and it serves a legal goal by putting more pressure on Manafort to become a cooperating witness", the story says.

The witnesses told investigators that they "understood" that Manafort was reaching out to influence the testimony, according to court papers. If he is found guilty in both cases, 69-year-old Manafort could be sent to prison for the rest of his life.

This was shortly after a grand jury filed an indictment against Manafort.

Kilimnik, a former employee, had worked with Manafort for years in the latter's European work.

Paul Manafort President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman leaves the federal courthouse in Washington
Paul Manafort President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman leaves the federal courthouse in Washington

Manafort lawyers said even the messages cited by prosecutors "are entirely consistent with Mr. Manafort's stated position and repeated assertion of his innocence", that his lobbying was "European-focused" and that he had no idea the two recipients would be called as witnesses.

According to the Prosecutor, between 2006 and 2014 Manafort and his partners Richard gates and kilimnik "participated in a lobbying campaign worth millions of dollars in the United States", working with the ex-President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, Party of regions and the government of Ukraine.

Manafort faces two other indictments on a laundry list of charges, including conspiracy against the USA, money laundering and tax fraud.

They argue the limited amount of communications "cannot be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness".

Kilimnik wasn't identified by name in the March filing but Bloomberg has confirmed it referred to him.

Manafort has acknowledged staying in frequent contact with Kilimnik during the time he worked for Trump's campaign. Others include 13 Russians accused in a hidden social media effort to sway public opinion, former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.

The FBI has assessed that Kilimnik had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, including during the 2016 presidential campaign when Manafort and Gates were in contact with him, prosecutors have said in court filings.

He was described as the intermediary through which Manafort volunteered to brief his onetime client, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, about the Trump campaign.

Through a spokesman, Manafort has confirmed the authenticity of the emails but said no briefings occurred.

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