Former Trump staffer Manafort accused of witness tampering

Clay Curtis
June 5, 2018

Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller are accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of making several attempts to tamper with witnesses in his ongoing criminal cases.

In court documents, an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent wrote that at least one witness has said Manafort reached out and seemed to be trying to coach them on what to say about his lobbying practices, The New York Times reports. Per the documents, Manafort attempted to contact witnesses via telephone and an encrypted messaging program.

Monday's court filing say Manafort's outreach was a violation of his release while he awaits trial.

That person subsequently told the investigators that he, as well as Manafort himself, was well aware of the fact that the group had extended its lobbying to the United States and said that he saw Manafort's intervention as an attempt to influence his testimony.

Mueller asked a federal judge to revise the terms of Manafort's release or revoke it entirely. Manafort was indicted in two courts on charges completely unrelated to the initial objective of the investigation, which has yet to produce any solid evidence in support of the collusion or obstruction claims.

He has pleaded not guilty.

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The prosecutors argue that they have "little confidence that restrictions short of detention will assure Manafort's compliance" with the court and keep him from committing more crimes before his trial, the filing said.

In previous filings, Person A has been used to designate Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort associate who prosecutors believe has ties to Russian intelligence - something Kilimnik has denied.

According to Mueller's request, Manafort tried to make at least three phone calls and sent at least two encrypted text messages to D1 "in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group". The witness said he hung up because he was "concerned" about the call, according to the affidavit. "We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe", Manafort's text said.

Then in March he pleaded not guilty to charges of bank and tax fraud, setting up a separate trial for July 10.

The witness told federal agents that Manafort and Person A were also trying to get the witnesses to tell members of the Hapsburg group that if they were contacted by anyone, they should say the group only performed lobbying and public relations work in Europe. Both witnesses said that wasn't true.

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