Manafort is accused of witness tampering

06 June, 2018, 04:28 | Author: Carlos George
  • President Donald Trump asserted his presidential power and escalated his efforts to discredit the special counsel Russia probe Monday declaring he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself

Paul Manafort's attempts to contact witnesses in his criminal case not only deepens his legal peril, but also sends a chilling message to others under special counsel Robert Mueller's scrutiny.

If approved by Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the explosive motion from Mueller's team could land Manafort back in house arrest, or even behind bars, as he awaits two separate trials on a laundry list of charges relating to his shady business dealings in Ukraine.

An FBI affidavit cites evidence of the attempted contacts in messages provided by the potential witnesses, telephone records and documents recovered through a court-authorized search of Manafort's iCloud account. The associate's contacts occurred in February and April, they say.

Mueller's team is asking a federal judge to hold a hearing to decide whether to revoke Manafort's release.

"He had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians", DOJ attorney Michael Dreeben said about Manafort during a hearing connected to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

"Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defence. We will do our talking in court", Maloni said.

Manafort faces trial in July on charges of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in bank loans.

The work preceded Manafort's role with the Trump campaign from March to August of 2016.

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Mueller charges that Manafort has attempted to "influence the testimony" of two potential witnesses in the special counsel's investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government. The fund's website was initially registered in December by Bruce Baldinger, a New Jersey real estate lawyer who has worked for years with Manafort, according to a person familiar with the situation. Kilimnik figured prominently in December, when Mueller accused Manafort of improperly commenting on his case in public. They were named in the court filing as Person D1 and Person D2.

Prosecutors say it appears Manafort and his longtime associate - identified by people close to the case as Konstantin Kilimnik - were seeking to get the two people to say, if investigators asked, that their past work together was focused on European officials and did not involve lobbying US officials.

Manafort is now facing charges in two criminal cases that accuse him of bank fraud, tax evasion and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

Gates pleaded guilty in February to two counts of conspiracy and making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Manafort messaged and called one of the witnesses the day after his co-defendant and business partner, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty and continued reaching out over the next several days, according to a sworn affidavit filed by an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in the case.

The confidante continued to try to spread Manafort's message, by sending an encrypted text that outlined Manafort's "quick summary" that "our friends never lobbied in the United States".

The executives at the PR firm kept encrypted text messages from Manafort and his associate and handed them over to the government, according to the filing.

In early May, Trump used Manafort as an example of how there is a "witch hunt" and said that Manafort was out there, "fighting fake news". "I have made clear that [the Hapsburg group] worked in Europe". Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday morning.

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