Manafort's lawyers say Mueller's new charges are based on 'thinnest of evidence'


U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday brought new charges against President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his Ukrainian associate Konstantin Kilimnik.

It names Konstantin Kilimnik, a Kiev resident with Russian and Ukrainian citizenships, as a co-conspirator of Manafort's in attempts to tamper with two potential witnesses at the upcoming trial.

Both witnesses were part of the Hapsburg Group, a collection of former European leaders paid by Manafort to lobby on behalf of Ukraine in the European Union and in the US. Moreover, several court documents filed by Mueller's prosecutors refer to Kilimnik as having "ties" to Russian intelligence organizations.

In the late Friday filing, Manafort's lawyers said the special counsel's allegations of witness tampering "conjures a sinister plot" to persuade associates to perjure themselves, but disputes that the evidence provided establishes any tampering.

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

"This is an alleged Russian spy committing crimes with the former campaign chairman for Trump", Mariotti said.

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Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Mueller's office filed court papers Monday accusing Manafort of witness tampering.

Mr Manafort is the most senior member of Mr Trump's campaign to be indicted, though the charges do not relate to campaign activities.

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is a key figure lawmakers and federal investigators want to speak with in their Russian Federation probe. He has pleaded not guilty. Manafort maintains that the firm's work was confined to the European Union, but his actions between February and April belie that claim.

The pressure against Manafort increased further in February, when Gates cut a plea deal with the special counsel.

He is now on house arrest at his condo in Alexandria, Virginia, and has a $10 million unsecured bail.

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The two witnesses reportedly told the Federal Bureau of Investigation they believed Manafort and Kilimnik had been trying to get them to lie about their work. "You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever".

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.

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".

Manafort continues to fight charges of laundering millions of dollars and was recently accused of trying to fix witness testimony.

Manafort's alleged actions took place before he joined the Trump campaign, the president said on social media. In one note, Manafort asked Kilimnik to offer Deripaska "private briefings" about the campaign.

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