The charges against Manafort do not relate to his 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. In addition, the filing says, Manafort's right to a fair trial by impartial jury "may have been irreparably damaged by the Special Counsel's latest, very public and very specious, filing of this motion".
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 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.
The new indictment was unsealed Friday against Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik just days after prosecutors accused the two men of attempting to tamper with witnesses, as Manafort awaits trial of felony charges related to his work on behalf of Ukrainian interests.
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The latest charges increase Manafort's legal jeopardy if he continues a battle with prosecutors. Manafort's lawyers would find the hard work of trial preparation even more challenging with their client in jail, Zeidenberg said.
Prosecutors have previously said Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, which he denies.
The Epoch Times previously laid out how a select group of Obama-administration officials orchestrated an expansive spy operation against the Trump campaign that included national security letters-a type of secret subpoena-Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, at least one spy, the unmasking of American citizens in intelligence reports, and spying conducted by foreign intelligence agencies.
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.
Mueller has 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 allegedly worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine, in an effort to influence their testimony or hide evidence in the case. Kilimnik has denied such ties.
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The judge in Manafort's case rebuked Mueller's team during a hearing in early May, saying that the prosecutors are more interested in taking down Trump than securing a conviction against Manafort.
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".
He was described as the intermediary through which Manafort volunteered to brief his onetime client, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, about the Trump campaign. The charges include conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.
In Friday's indictment, Mueller accused Kilimnik of taking part in the covert lobbying scheme, and in trying to influence potential witnesses.
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.
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