Mueller Brings Superseding Indictment Against Manafort

WASHINGTON (CN) – Special counsel Robert Mueller filed a superseding indictment Friday against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, along with his Soviet-born business associate Konstantin Kilimnik.

Previous court filings have described Manafort’s associations with Person A — whom various press reports have identified as Kilimnik — but this is the first time that Manafort’s right-hand man has been swept up in Mueller’s broad probe.

Adding two new counts of obstruction of justice, the new indictment contends that Manafort and Kilimnik attempted to tamper with witnesses who were called to testify in an official proceeding.

Mueller’s team first lobbed witness-tampering claims against Manafort on Monday, saying that his conduct necessitates revoking bail and keeping him behind bars on the road to trial.

The witnesses whose testimony Manafort allegedly tried to bend are identified in the indictment as Persons D1 and D2. Their role in the case involves what previous filings by Mueller describe as the Hapsburg Group, a collective of several former senior European politicians whom Manafort allegedly paid to lobby in the United States, taking positions favorable to Ukraine,  while appearing to provide independent assessments of Ukrainian actions.

“In 2012 and 2013, Manafort used at least four offshore accounts to wire more than 2 million euros to pay the group of former politicians,” the indictment says.

Persons D1 and D2, as well as an entity described as Company D, were allegedly tapped to “serve as intermediaries with the Hapsburg group and to engage in other lobbying for Ukraine.”

Gates, described in the indictment as having directed these activities with Manafort and Kilimnik, pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and has since been cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation.

The indictment says Gates, Manafort and Kilimnik also tried to engage two Washington, D.C., firms – identified only as Companies A and B – to lobby on behalf of former Ukraine former President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russia Party of Regions.

Though they were paid millions of dollars to conduct such work from 2006 to 2014, according to the indictment, Manafort, Kilimnik and Gates, Manafort’s longtime business associate, all neglected to register in the United States as foreign agents.

Manafort created the political consulting company Davis Manafort Partners in 2005, and the Party of Regions retained the firm a year later. That work was transferred to DMP International LLC when Manafort created this entity in 2011 to handle public relations, consulting and lobbying work on behalf of the Ukrainian government and the Party of Regions.

Prosecutors say Kilimnik oversaw DMP International’s Kiev office.

An article on the case this week by the Atlantic quotes Manafort as describing Kilimnik to others in his office as “my Russian brain.” Kilimnik reportedly mastered the English language as well as Swedish by attending a language school run by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service  which was previously known as the Red Army of the Soviet Union.

Manafort’s response to the motion regarding his bail is due by midnight, with a hearing on the matter scheduled for Friday, June 15, before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. It is unclear how the new charges will impact those proceedings.

Friday’s superseding indictment marks the fourth set of charges the special counsel has brought against Manafort.

The first indictment, alleging conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements and failure to register as a foreign agent, was filed on Oct. 30 in Washington, D.C. Mueller added a superseding indictment there on Feb. 23, a day after he indicted Manafort in the Eastern District of Virginia for bank and tax fraud.

All of the charges facing Manafort relate to his lobbying work on behalf of Ukraine. Mueller has yet to charge him with any crimes directly related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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