Special counsel Mueller indicts associate of Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort appears to be running out of ways to combat a key charge in the Mueller probe

Mueller has a broad mandate to investigate any possible collusion between Trump's 2016 election campaign team and Russian Federation, including possible obstruction of the investigation by President Donald Trump and any others.

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.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, one focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, hides behind a auto visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Va., after being asked to surrender to federal authorities.

The witnesses have told investigators that they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about the nature of his Ukrainian political work.

A spokesman for Mueller issued a statement on Friday saying: "A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia has returned a third superseding indictment today against Paul J Manafort Jr, 69, of Alexandria, Virginia, which adds Konstantin Kilimnik, 48, of Moscow, Russia, as a defendant and charges both defendants with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice".

The latest charges increase Manafort's legal jeopardy if he continues a battle with prosecutors.

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 United States, and the goal of the program was European Union". Manafort's lawyers would find the hard work of trial preparation even more challenging with their client in jail, Zeidenberg said.

The new charges accuse Manafort of "repeatedly" contacting two anonymous people who may be witnesses against him.

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The expanded criminal allegations ratchet up the pressure Manafort faces to cut a deal with the special counsel's office as he awaits two criminal trials. "You now have the former chairman of the Trump campaign charged with conspiring with a suspected Russian intelligence operative".

Manafort is now on bail and awaiting trial.

That day was the first time prosecutors also revealed they knew about Manafort's efforts to pay an influential group of European politicians, called the Hapsburg group, 2 million to help his Ukrainian lobbying clients.

Prosecutors say that the "P" in the message refers to Manafort and that the assertions in the texts are untrue. The country was ousted from the leading group of industrialised nations in 2014 as punishment for President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Years after his work for Yanukovych ended, Manafort joined the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump in March 2016 and served briefly as the campaign manager from June to August that year. The charges include conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

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". The politicians lobbied members of Congress and executive-branch officials on Ukraine in coordination with Manafort and his longtime deputy and former co-defendant, Rick Gates, according to prosecutors.

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

Manafort's latest round of troubles started early this week, when Mueller's team asked a judge to review his house arrest and to consider jailing him over an alleged attempt to influence witnesses.

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