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Manafort calls new obstruction charges 'dubious'

Manafort calls new obstruction charges 'dubious'

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.

"Manafort and Kilimnik repeatedly contacted Persons D1 and D2 in an effort to secure materially false testimony", prosecutors alleged in court papers.

They also say the allegations that he and an associate tampered with witnesses involved in his criminal case are based on "scant" evidence.

The indictment took the number of people indicted by the 13-month-old investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller to 20, with three companies also indicted.

Prosecutors allege that a Russian partner of Manafort's, Konstantin Kilimnik, helped him try to persuade witnesses to lie to the jury when Manafort's case comes to trial in Washington, D.C., this autumn.

Kilimnik, widely believed to be a former agent for the Kremlin's top intelligence agency, GRU, has been working for Manafort in various capacities since they lobbied for Russia-backed ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the early 2000s.

This is how Vogel puts it in the third paragraph of his story: "The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has not publicly sought to connect Mr. Kilimnik or Mr. Manafort to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but Friday's indictment of Mr. Kilimnik could carry symbolic significance nonetheless".

Manafort's lawyers filed a response Friday that "the Special Counsel contrives dubious allegations".

Almost four months later, in February, the pair was hit with additional tax evasion and bank fraud charges.These charges involved much of the same conduct Manafort and Gates were initially accused of, but the amount of money Manafort said to have laundered through offshore accounts increased to $30 million.

The government has not charged Manafort with the crime of witness-tampering or obstruction of justice.

A spokesperson for Manafort released the following statement in light of the new charges: "Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense".

In the court filing earlier this week Mueller accused Manafort of attempting to call, text and send encrypted messages in February to two people from "The Hapsburg Group", a political discussion group he worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine. Kilimnik has denied such ties and characterized himself as "a random casualty because of my proximity to" Manafort.

The new charges will factor heavily into whether U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson allows Manafort to remain on house arrest. Prosecutors named him in one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

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".

Asked on Friday if he would pardon Manafort, Trump refused to answer. Kilimnik also reached out to witnesses in April.

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.

Yet Manafort and the public relations people had brought the Hapsburg group to the USA 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. The deal was the subject of a long-running legal dispute, with Deripaska claiming Manafort had defrauded him.