Manafort accused of several attempts to tamper with witnesses

Robert Mueller, the U.S. special counsel investigating alleged Russian election interference, has accused Donald Trump's former campaign manager of attempting to tamper with witnesses.

In court documents, including an affidavit by Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Brock Domin, prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller allege Manafort and his associate tried to contact the two witnesses by phone and through an encrypted messaging program.

For one, prosecutors are likely to introduce evidence of witness tampering at Manafort's upcoming trial to show consciousness of guilt, or a guilty mind.

Prosecutors accused Manafort and a longtime associate they linked to Russian intelligence of repeatedly contacting two members of a public relations firm and asking them to falsely testify about secret lobbying they did at Manafort's behest.

The communications were "in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise hide evidence", Mr. Domin wrote.

"We should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn't have been hired", he wrote.

"I've seen this kind of witness tampering hundreds of times", the veteran former prosecutor said.

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Manafort faces felony charges in the two cases over allegations he concealed tens of millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service that he had earned advising pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.

The former chairman of President Donald Trump's presidential campaign is facing accusations of trying to tamper with witnesses in his ongoing criminal cases.

In February, the 69-year-old pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, illegal lobbying and lying, setting up the first trial to result from Mueller's investigation, due to begin on September 17. But prosecutors say they worked with Manafort in organizing a group of former European officials who lobbied within the USA without registering.

The excerpt from the Monday court filing in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia appears below. He was indicted in Virginia on tax and bank fraud charges dating back to 2005 and 2007 and, in Washington, DC, on charges of failing to formally declare his lobbying efforts for the Ukrainian government between 2006 and 2015.

Monday's court filing say Manafort's outreach was a violation of his release while he awaits trial. "I have made clear that [the Hapsburg group] worked in Europe".

Trump has denied collusion with Russian Federation and called Mueller's investigation a 'witch hunt'.

Manafort's legal team disputes Mueller's authority to run the investigation into matters that do not refer to his work on the campaign trail.

  • Megan Austin