Robert Mueller slaps obstruction charges on Paul Manafort

Howard TerryJun 09, 2018

Robert Mueller, the U.S. special counsel investigating election meddling, filed charges on Friday against a political operative with alleged ties to Russian intelligence, bringing his probe into possible collusion by the Trump presidential campaign a step closer to the Kremlin's door.

Manafort has already been charged with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements and false statements. The new charges against Kilimnik and Manafort, the latter of whom faces previous charges, are not directly related Trump's presidential campaign but rather are for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice. Among the alleged texts Mueller highlighted was one in which Kilimnik told one associate that Manafort wanted to "give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the United States, and the goal of the program was European Union". But the new allegations in Mueller's indictment on Friday show a direct link to an individual, Konstantin Kilimnik, believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

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

According to that filing, Kilimnik contacted Person D2 in February to inform Person D2 that Manafort was attempting to get in touch with Person D1. The government accuses Manafort of dodging taxes, failing to register as a foreign agent while working in Washington on behalf of foreign governments, and other charges. One project was to assemble a team of European political leaders who could advocate for Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych - apparently independently.

According to the witnesses, Manafort and Kilimnik appeared to be pressuring them to say the Hapsburg group only worked in Europe, when they knew that they had been secretly paid to lobby in the U.S. Several of the politicians involved have denied any wrongdoing.

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

The new charges will factor heavily into whether U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson allows Manafort to remain on house arrest. There's nothing to pardon, ' Trump added.

He added: "That evidence would likely be extremely damaging to Manafort at trial-if he was innocent, why would he try to engage in witness tampering?" He also has denied being connected to Russian intelligence agencies. In one note, Manafort asked Kilimnik to offer Deripaska "private briefings" about the campaign. He has previously worked at the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and the New York Post, where he started as a copy boy.

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