Mueller accuses Manafort of witness tampering


One of many witnesses informed investigators not too long ago that Manafort wished them to commit perjury a few lobbying effort they labored on for him within the US, the submitting mentioned.

Manafort is presently out on home arrest and a $10 million unsecured bail. He awaits a trial in Virginia that’s scheduled for late July and a trial in DC scheduled to start in September. He has pleaded not responsible to fees associated to his failure to reveal his US lobbying work for a international authorities and to financial institution fraud and different monetary crimes.

Tampering with a witness is against the law in itself — and it is one Manafort has not but been charged with.

The brand new allegation locations much more stress on the previous Trump marketing campaign chairman, who has stared down prosecutors as they heaped fees on him and say they proceed to analyze the likelihood that he coordinated with Russians throughout the 2016 presidential election.

Hapsburg group exercise

In late February, the brand new submitting says, Manafort “repeatedly contacted” two nameless individuals who could also be witnesses in opposition to him, referred to as Particular person D1 and D2. These two individuals had beforehand assisted lobbying and public relations efforts that Manafort masterminded within the US and Europe. They’ve not too long ago helped investigators discover proof of the witness tampering effort, prosecutors mentioned.

Manafort and a confidante first requested the 2 individuals to assert that the Ukrainian lobbying work solely occurred in Europe, successfully making an attempt to get their tales all on the identical web page, since all concerned knew the group had lobbied Congress, investigators mentioned. Manafort additionally tried to make use of the 2 individuals to affect the distinguished group of former European political leaders they beforehand labored with, referred to as the Hapsburg group, who had been a part of the alleged lobbying scheme.

The 2 individuals had beforehand helped Manafort prepare for the Hapsburg group to contact US senators, meet with members of Congress and their staffs, and publish an op-ed in The Hill newspaper in Washington that supported the politics of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whereas posing as impartial voices, prosecutors have mentioned. In Monday evening’s submitting, prosecutors connected a number of emails and schedules from 2011 to 2013 in regards to the Hapsburg group’s conferences within the US with members of Congress.

Manafort’s allegedly unlawful contacts with the 2 individuals occurred within the days after prosecutors unveiled a brand new set of felony fees in opposition to him in DC associated to his lobbying work. These fees had revealed for the primary time the existence of the Hapsburg group and its efforts within the US.

Additionally that week, on February 23, Manafort’s longtime deputy Rick Gates agreed to plead responsible to fees of conspiracy and mendacity to investigators and would cooperate with prosecutors, making Manafort’s case an much more troublesome one to beat.

WhatsApp messages and cellphone calls

Manafort’s contacts with the 2 potential witnesses began benignly sufficient, with cellphone calls and textual content messages by means of the service WhatsApp.

“That is paul,” the primary encrypted textual content message that the federal government obtained mentioned.

Then, two days later, he despatched a information article in regards to the Hapsburg group revelation in his courtroom case. “We must always discuss. I’ve made clear that they labored in Europe,” Manafort wrote.

He referred to as Particular person D1 5 occasions in late February.

Particular person D1 tried to keep away from him, even hanging up on one of many calls, the prosecutors mentioned.

One other Manafort confidante whom prosecutors have mentioned has ties to Russian intelligence then contacted the second Manafort lobbying assistant on February 28 “out of the blue,” the particular person informed investigators, sending a “hello! How are you? Hope you might be doing superb” and a wink emoji. The Manaforte confidante, known as Particular person A, then informed the second potential witness he wished to achieve Particular person D1 “to transient him on what is going on on.”

The confidante continued to attempt to unfold Manafort’s message, by sending an encrypted textual content that outlined Manafort’s “fast abstract” that “our mates by no means lobbied within the US.”

As a result of witness tampering is against the law, and Manafort’s bail provisions warn that he should not break the legislation whereas awaiting trial, the prosecutors argue they’ve “little confidence that restrictions in need of detention will guarantee Manafort’s compliance,” the submitting mentioned.

Manafort presently wears two GPS monitor ankle bracelets on separate legs, maintaining him confined to his Alexandria rental aside from authorized, medical and non secular appointments. He has tried to submit $10 million in properties as his bail a number of occasions since his preliminary arrest in late October, so he might transfer about extra freely, to no avail.

Manafort’s attorneys didn’t reply to a request for remark Monday evening.

The federal choose in DC, Amy Berman Jackson, has not but responded as of late Monday evening. Prosecutors additionally submitted the submitting they made in DC to the choose overseeing Manafort’s monetary crimes case in Virginia, T.S. Ellis, in case he desires to vary Manafort’s bail phrases there.

CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.

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