A third superseding indictment has been handed up by a Washington D.C. federal grand jury against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. They said nothing governing the terms of their client's pretrial release prevents him from having contact with anyone, that the apps, which encrypt messages, that Manafort used are commonplace and that he'd asked no one to produce a false affidavit or false testimony at trial.
The charges could be an effort by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to induce a guilty plea and secure the testimony of a critical campaign adviser to Trump.
The new indictment charges Manafort and Kilimnik with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice related to contacts they had with two witnesses earlier this year.
Prosecutors already claimed that Manafort misled federal authorities for years about his lobbying work in the USA for Ukrainian politicians before he joined the Trump campaign.
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. Kilimnik was considered by investigators to have been involved trying to set this up, according to The Washington Post last September. Manafort's lawyers had been given a deadline of Friday to respond to those charges.
Kilimnik, a former army-trained linguist with alleged ties to Russian intelligence, was included in an updated, lengthened indictment of Manafort that accused both of witness tampering.
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.
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The government has not charged Manafort with the crime of witness-tampering or obstruction of justice. Mueller has said Kilimnik has links to Russian spy agencies, an allegation Kilimnik denies.
By adding Kilimnik to the running charges against Manafort, Mueller bolsters his argument for tearing up Manafort's bail deals, according to Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Arent Fox LLP in Washington. If he is found guilty in both cases, 69-year-old Manafort could be sent to prison for the rest of his life. The individuals shared communications with prosecutors, the government said. Prosecutors named him in one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kilimnik has denied such ties.
Yet Manafort and the public relations people had brought the Hapsburg group to the United States 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.
In addition, one of the officials said, Kilimnik's reported trips to the U.S.in May and August 2016 during Trump's campaign have "attracted attention" as to whether Manafort and Kilimnik tried to capitalize on Manafort's campaign role by offering Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska private briefings.
They said Manafort's "limited communications can not be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness".
But Kilimnik directly communicated with another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, a month before the election in 2016, according to a legal filing by Mueller in March.
Asked on Friday if he would pardon Manafort, Trump refused to answer.