Manafort hit with third superseding indictment by Mueller; former associate also charged

Manafort hit with third superseding indictment by Mueller; former associate also charged

The charges do not relate to Manafort's work on the Trump campaign or involve allegations of Russian election interference, a fact that the president has routinely noted as he tried to distance himself from his former top campaign adviser.

Manafort's lawyers, in a court filing on Friday, asked the judge to reject Mueller's request, saying "the text messages cited by the special counsel do not establish any witness tampering".

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

Both were charged in a District of Columbia federal court with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice when they allegedly sought to make contact with two witnesses earlier this year.

The alleged coverup stems from work Manafort, Kilimnik and others did with former European politicians, referred to informally as the "Hapsburg group", to advocate on Ukraine's behalf to US and European officials.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has brought new obstruction charges against President Donald Trump's campaign chairman and a longtime associate who prosecutors have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

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Kilimnik, according to court papers, wrote a message to the other executive two days later saying: "Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the U.S., and the objective of the program was European Union". The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Friday that Manafort and his lawyers were reviewing the new charges.

The special counsel said in a statement on Friday the third indictment against Paul Manafort adds Konstantin Kilimnik as a defendant and charges both men with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts, and is expected to go on trial in Washington, D.C., on September 17.

Note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Kilimnik was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice. Mueller has said Kilimnik has links to Russian spy agencies, an allegation Kilimnik denies.

Investigators claimed that the "repeated" contacts occurred while Manafort was under house arrest, as a condition of his release pending the trials in Washington and Virginia.

Before Kilimnik was identified by name in charges on Friday, he had made multiple appearances in Mueller's filings as an unidentified intermediary for Manafort.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson has scheduled a hearing for June 15 at which she ordered Manafort, prosecutors and witnesses to appear to deal with the alleged witness-tampering.

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Manafort worked with a lobbying firm that enlisted former European politicians, the so-called Hapsburg group, who wrote articles and addressed US politicians.

Manafort, who has also been indicted in a federal court in Virginia, has been charged with an array of allegations from money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine to bank and tax fraud.

The president has consistently downplayed Manafort's role in this campaign leading up to his general election victory in 2016.

They argue the limited amount of communications "cannot be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness". His co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors.

Mueller also accused Manafort of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.

Read on for a look at Manafort's work with the Trump campaign and how he is connected to the Russian Federation investigation.

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