Mueller accuses Manafort of witness tampering

The special counsel's office has accused former Trump campaign chairman ...

Posted: Jun 7, 2018 9:03 AM
Updated: Jun 7, 2018 9:03 AM

The special counsel's office has accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of attempting to get witnesses to lie for him in court, and they've asked the judge to send him to jail as he awaits his trial, according to a filing in DC District Court Monday night.

One of the witnesses told investigators recently that Manafort wanted them to commit perjury about a lobbying effort they worked on for him in the US, the filing said.

Manafort is currently out on house arrest and a $10 million unsecured bail. He awaits a trial in Virginia that is scheduled for late July and a trial in DC scheduled to begin in September. He has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his failure to disclose his US lobbying work for a foreign government and to bank fraud and other financial crimes.

Tampering with a witness is a crime in itself -- and it's one Manafort has not yet been charged with.

The new allegation places even more pressure on Manafort, who has stared down prosecutors as they heaped charges on him and say they continue to investigate the possibility that he coordinated with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, said Tuesday that the former campaign chairman was innocent.

"Nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense. We will do our talking in court," Maloni said.

Manafort must respond more thoroughly by Friday in court to the special counsel's office allegations that he attempted to tamper with witnesses before his trial. He and Mueller's prosecutors will also discuss the allegation and whether he should be imprisoned for violating his bail terms at a hearing June 15. At that hearing, an FBI agent who tracked Manafort's communications with the potential witnesses and the witnesses themselves, who have not been named, may testify, the federal judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, said Tuesday morning.

Hapsburg group activity

In late February, the new filing says, Manafort "repeatedly contacted" two anonymous people who may be witnesses against him, called Person D1 and D2. Those two people had previously assisted lobbying and public relations efforts that Manafort masterminded in the US and Europe. They have recently helped investigators find evidence of the witness tampering effort, prosecutors said.

Manafort and a confidante first asked the two people to claim that the Ukrainian lobbying work only happened in Europe, effectively attempting to get their stories all on the same page, since all involved knew the group had lobbied Congress, investigators said. Manafort also attempted to use the two people to influence the distinguished group of former European political leaders they previously worked with, called the Hapsburg group, who were part of the alleged lobbying scheme.

The two people had previously helped Manafort arrange for the Hapsburg group to contact US senators, meet with members of Congress and their staffs, and publish an op-ed in The Hill newspaper in Washington that supported the politics of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, while posing as independent voices, prosecutors have said. In Monday night's filing, prosecutors attached several emails and schedules from 2011 to 2013 about the Hapsburg group's meetings in the US with members of Congress.

Manafort's allegedly illegal contacts with the two people happened in the days after prosecutors unveiled a new set of criminal charges against him in DC related to his lobbying work. Those charges had revealed for the first time the existence of the Hapsburg group and its efforts in the US.

Also that week, on February 23, Manafort's longtime deputy Rick Gates agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators and would cooperate with prosecutors, making Manafort's case an even more difficult one to overcome.

WhatsApp messages and phone calls

Manafort's contacts with the two potential witnesses started benignly enough, with phone calls and text messages through the service WhatsApp.

"This is paul," the first encrypted text message that the government obtained said.

Then, two days later, he sent a news article about the Hapsburg group revelation in his court case. "We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe," Manafort wrote.

He called Person D1 five times in late February.

Person D1 tried to avoid him, even hanging up on one of the calls, the prosecutors said.

Another Manafort confidante whom prosecutors have said has ties to Russian intelligence then contacted the second Manafort lobbying assistant on February 28 "out of the blue," the person told investigators, sending a "hi! How are you? Hope you are doing fine" and a wink emoji. The Manafort confidante, referred to as Person A, then told the second potential witness he wanted to reach Person D1 "to brief him on what's going on."

The confidante continued to try to spread Manafort's message, by sending an encrypted text that outlined Manafort's "quick summary" that "our friends never lobbied in the US."

Because witness tampering is a crime, and Manafort's bail provisions warn that he shouldn't break the law while awaiting trial, the prosecutors argue they have "little confidence that restrictions short of detention will assure Manafort's compliance," the filing said.

Manafort currently wears two GPS monitor ankle bracelets on separate legs, keeping him confined to his Alexandria condo except for legal, medical and religious appointments. He has attempted to post $10 million in properties as his bail several times since his initial arrest in late October, so he could move about more freely, to no avail.

Prosecutors also submitted the filing they made in DC to the judge overseeing Manafort's financial crimes case in Virginia, T.S. Ellis, in case he wants to change Manafort's bail terms there.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60553

Reported Deaths: 1703
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5209106
DeSoto328027
Madison228154
Rankin212428
Harrison209832
Jackson192934
Jones176557
Forrest163153
Washington148032
Lauderdale132388
Lee123230
Neshoba119487
Lamar111512
Oktibbeha105235
Lowndes97332
Warren96426
Scott95317
Bolivar93932
Copiah90924
Panola90711
Sunflower90622
Lafayette8699
Holmes84347
Leflore83259
Pike82632
Grenada81220
Yazoo77311
Leake76725
Lincoln74339
Wayne73221
Pontotoc7247
Simpson71126
Monroe69750
Coahoma65910
Tate64523
Marion59918
Adams58025
Covington57811
Winston57115
Marshall5668
George5415
Union51913
Newton51611
Attala49524
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48236
Walthall44218
Chickasaw43519
Noxubee41710
Claiborne40013
Smith37713
Jasper3758
Calhoun3748
Clay36814
Alcorn3544
Prentiss3376
Hancock32614
Tishomingo3163
Yalobusha31610
Lawrence3135
Itawamba30710
Tippah30412
Clarke29825
Montgomery2913
Humphreys26911
Tunica2656
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Kemper22315
Perry2217
Quitman2211
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis1986
Webster19712
Jefferson1916
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1483
Choctaw1264
Benton1240
Franklin1142
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 88811

Reported Deaths: 1576
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11650225
Mobile8998191
Montgomery6198143
Madison493225
Tuscaloosa391263
Baldwin317522
Shelby300232
Marshall294730
Unassigned263351
Lee249140
Morgan220615
Etowah191425
DeKalb167713
Elmore158437
Calhoun15359
Walker145763
Houston130912
Dallas128023
Russell12201
Franklin118420
Limestone118313
St. Clair118212
Cullman111311
Colbert107612
Lauderdale105312
Autauga101020
Escambia96515
Talladega89013
Jackson8163
Chambers81438
Tallapoosa80478
Dale77619
Butler75135
Blount7223
Covington70420
Coffee7035
Chilton6976
Pike6547
Barbour5625
Lowndes54624
Marion53524
Marengo51514
Clarke4849
Hale44925
Bullock43711
Perry4284
Winston42811
Wilcox4029
Monroe3884
Randolph38810
Conecuh37110
Bibb3643
Pickens3639
Sumter36118
Washington31011
Macon30813
Lawrence3060
Crenshaw2843
Choctaw27312
Henry2433
Greene24011
Cherokee2337
Geneva2260
Clay2165
Lamar1942
Fayette1695
Cleburne1141
Coosa902
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 89°
Columbus
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Oxford
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 85°
Starkville
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 82°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather