Manafort blasts Mueller's 'dubious' accusation of attempted witness tampering

Giuliani Comey could be prosecuted based on IG report

They maintain the communications cited by the prosecutors "do not establish any witness tampering.'" They add that Manafort's right to an impartial jury in Washington "may have been irreparably damaged by the Special Counsel's. very public and very specious" motion. He has been charged with money laundering, tax and bank fraud, and conspiracy in two federal cases as part of Mueller's ongoing probe.

It also included an allegation that a fixer described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a former Russian spy, Konstantin Kilimnik, helped Manafort obstruct justice. It also marked the first time Kilimnik, who in previous court filings was referred to only as "Person A" and described as having links to Russian spy agencies, was named.

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.

Mr Mueller has yet to assert that Mr Manafort's Ukraine and Russian connections resulted in any election-meddling.

The president has consistently downplayed Manafort's role in this campaign leading up to his general election victory in 2016. "Or to put it even more bluntly than Mueller: Donald Trump's campaign chairman had a pawn of Russian intelligence as his indispensable alter ego", the Atlantic's Franklin Foer wrote Wednesday. Friday's indictment does not change the counts already against him.

"The indictment serves a strategic objective in raising public awareness about the connections that those who worked on Trump's campaign had with Russians, and it serves a legal goal by putting more pressure on Manafort to become a cooperating witness", the story says.

"Manafort and Kilimnik repeatedly contacted Persons D1 and D2 in an effort to secure materially false testimony", prosecutors alleged in court papers. Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators earlier this year in a cooperation deal with the government.

Neither Kilimnik nor a Manafort spokesman responded to messages seeking comment.

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Manafort was exercising his freedom to disagree with the special counsel's legal theories, the attorneys said.

Manafort now faces a laundry list of charges from Mueller.

The witnesses that Kilimnik and Manafort approached were involved in Manafort's alleged lobbying campaign on behalf of Ukrainian's government.

Asked on Friday if he would pardon Manafort, Trump refused to answer.

It was the third time Mueller had added to charges against Manafort since he was indicted in October. "Indeed, previously", Manafort said.

After working in Moscow as an interpreter for the International Republican Institute, a Washington-based organization, he helped Manafort lobby for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

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.

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