'Obstruction of Justice' Charge as Mueller Hits Manafort With New Indictment

Casey Dawson
June 11, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has added additional charges against Paul Manafort, the ex-chairman of the Trump 2016 campaign, and indicted a top aide.

Mueller initially leveled witness tampering accusations against President Donald Trump's former campaign manager in a motion to revoke or revise Manafort's pretrial release conditions filed on June 4.

Manafort, who spent years lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine before joining the Trump campaign, was already facing a number of charges from Mueller since he was first indicted in October.

Kilimnik, who didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, has denied any links to Russian intelligence.

Yet Manafort and the public relations people had brought the Hapsburg group to the U.S. to speak with members of Congress about the interests of Viktor Yanukovych, a former Ukrainian president who had jailed a political rival, while posing as independent voices, prosecutors said earlier this week.

Lastly, there is one more nugget in Manafort's indictment that I have yet to see highlighted in major media: some alleged crimes may be directly connected to Trump.

Mueller has a broad mandate to investigate any possible collusion between Trump's 2016 election campaign team and Russian Federation, including possible obstruction of the investigation by President Donald Trump and any others.

Here is the superseding indictment filed by Mueller on Friday.

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The timing of these fresh charges couldn't come at a more awkward time, with Mr Trump only this morning calling for the reinstatement of Russian Federation into the G-7. Well, now the Grand Jury has itself determined that Manafort did just this. His co-defendant Gates pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

"Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense", Manafort spokesperson Jason Maloni told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday.

The expanded criminal allegations ratchet up the pressure Manafort faces to cut a deal with the special counsel's office as he awaits two criminal trials. The indictment doesn't give details, but in another court motion earlier this week Mr. Mueller said Mr. Manafort tried to get a witness to lie for him in court. The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Friday that Manafort and his lawyers were reviewing the new charges.

Ellis previously suggested Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Emails show that during the middle of the campaign, Manafort told Kilimnik he was willing to provide "private briefings" about Trump's presidential run to a billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It claims that between February 23 and April of this year, Manafort and Kilimnik tried to persuade witnesses with "intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding".

Earlier on Friday, Mr Trump denied that he was considering pardoning Mr Manafort. In one note, Manafort asked Kilimnik to offer Deripaska "private briefings" about the campaign.

Author information: Devlin Barrett writes about national security and law enforcement for The Washington Post.

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