Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Ex-Trump staffer Manafort hit with obstruction of justice in Russian Federation probe

Ex-Trump staffer Manafort hit with obstruction of justice in Russian Federation probe

The latest Manafort indictment comes as President Trump and his top attorney, Rudy Giuliani, continue to attack the Mueller investigation, blasting it as a partisan "witch hunt".

In a biting, nine-page filing Friday evening, Manafort's attorneys denied the allegations and accused Mueller's team of conjuring up "a sinister plot" from a scant record of telephone calls and de-encrypted texts.

The office of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted Russians before in its Russia investigation, but so far none of them have been extradited to face the charges inside the United States.

The witnesses have told investigators that they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about the nature of his Ukrainian political work.

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller 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.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Kilimnik-a Ukrainian man who used to serve in the Soviet army and learned English at a school run by military intelligence-worked for the Russians.

However, Manafort hit back at what he called a dubious plot meant to corruptly persuade his former business associates to perjure themselves at the upcoming trial in September.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort one focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election hides behind his car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria Virginia U.S. O
Robert Mueller slaps obstruction charges on Paul Manafort

Manafort's lawyers responded to those allegations in a sharply worded filing late Friday, accusing Mueller of contriving "dubious allegations" of witness tampering and, in so doing, poisoning the jury pool ahead of his trials. For Manafort, the charges came just before his attorneys argued that he should be allowed to be freed from home confinement on bond pending his trial, scheduled for next month in Alexandria, Va. If he is found guilty in both cases, 69-year-old Manafort could be sent to prison for the rest of his life.

Since Feb. 23, Mueller alleges Manafort and Kilimnik have "repeatedly" tried to get in touch with two people connected to the so-called Hapsburg group, a consulting firm made up of Kremlin-friendly European politicians with ties to Yanukovych. Kilimnik, who prosecutors say lives in Moscow, was not in US custody Friday. Kilimnik has denied such ties and characterized himself as "a random casualty because of my proximity to" Manafort.

According to documents posted in the electronic database of the court, Manafort and kilimnik accused of attempting to obstruct justice, perjury, conspiracy to obstruct the authorities and conspiracy to commit money laundering, reports TASS.

In the summer of 2016, Manafort emailed Kilimnik and told him to offer private briefings on the USA presidential campaign to Deripaska in an effort to resolve the dispute, people close to the situation have said.

Manafort has been the subject of a long-running investigation over his dealings in Ukraine several years ago - for which he didn't file as a foreign agent until June 2017. "Closer scrutiny of this 'evidence" reveals that the Special Counsel's allegations are without merit because Mr. Manafort's limited communications can not be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness".

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, was promoted to campaign manager in May 2016, and stayed until August 2016, having played a major role during the Republican National Convention. Kilimnik later took on more responsibilities, serving as Manafort's liaison to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who paid Manafort to advise him on investments.

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