Prosecutors have filed a new indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manfort

Manafort's attorneys said Friday the new charges on based on slim evidence: an 84-second phone call and text messages between Manafort and the two former business associates. They said nothing governing the terms of their client's pretrial release prevents him from having contact with anyone, that the encrypted-messaging apps Manafort used are commonplace and that he didn't ask anyone to produce a false affidavit or false testimony at trial.

In a response to the accusations made earlier in the week, Manafort's attorneys argued in a filing late Friday night that the special counsel allegations of witness tampering "conjures a sinister plot" to persuade associates to perjure themselves, but disputes that the evidence provided establishes any tampering.

Mueller's new indictment comes as Trump and his allies, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, increase their public attacks on Mueller's investigation and pressure the special counsel to bring his work to a close.

The indictment charges both men with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice related to contacts they had with two witnesses earlier this year.

In addition to Manafort, a longtime business associate whom the special counsel has identified as a former Russian intelligence officer - Konstantin Kilimnik - has also been charged in this new round.


The witnesses placed op-eds from the politicians and arranged meetings for them in the United States and around the world, according to court papers. The spokesman, Jason Maloni, said Friday that Manafort and his lawyers were reviewing the new charges.

In previous filings, the special counsel had indicated that Kilimnik, who began working with Manafort in 2005 for the political party of Ukraine's pro-Russia former president, Viktor Yanukovych, had ties to Russian intelligence.

However, Manafort hit back at what he called a dubious plot meant to corruptly persuade his former business associates to perjure themselves at the upcoming trial in September.

Kilimnik has also drawn the scrutiny of congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. He's awaiting trial in federal courts in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia.

One of the charges Manafort is facing is failing to properly register as a foreign agent. The individuals shared communications with prosecutors, the government said.


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

According to documents posted in the electronic database of the court, Manafort and kilimnik accused of attempting to obstruct justice, perjury, conspiracy to obstruct the authorities and conspiracy to commit money laundering, reports TASS. "Closer scrutiny of this "evidence" reveals that the Special Counsel's allegations are without merit because Mr. Manafort's limited communications can not be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness".

Mueller's office filed court papers Monday accusing Manafort of witness tampering. His co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty in February and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

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

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 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. The deal was the subject of a long-running legal dispute, with Deripaska claiming Manafort had defrauded him.


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