Manafort Is ‘Innocent,’ Spokesman Says After Witness Tampering Claims

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his wife Kathleen arrive at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse January 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates both pleaded not guilty last year to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

A spokesman for Paul Manafort appeared to respond Tuesday to allegations made by special counsel Robert Mueller that the former Trump campaign chairman had engaged in witness tampering while facing charges in two criminal cases.

“Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense,” spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement Tuesday. “We will do our talking in court.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who’s overseeing the case against Manafort in D.C., gave Manafort’s lawyers until Friday to file a response to Mueller’s allegations, which first surfaced Monday evening in court documents. She also scheduled a hearing on the matter for the morning of Friday, June 15.

Prosecutors are asking the judge to throw Manafort in jail while he awaits trial.

Mueller in filings Monday night said that Manafort had sought to reach out to two former business associates who allegedly helped coordinate a group of former European leaders said to be involved in Manafort’s lobbying for Ukraine. According to the filings, Manafort tried calling and texting one of  the associates directly, while  his longtime business partner Konstantin Kilimnik — dubbed by Mueller as “Person A” — reached out to the both associates in encrypted texts where he said he was trying to deliver a message from his “friend P.”

The texts and calls started after Mueller revealed a new set of charges that included the allegations about the group of ex-European leaders, known in the court documents as the Hapsburg group.

“Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU,” one of the Kilimnik texts said, according to Mueller’s court filings. The filings also included emails that allegedly showed the Hapsburg group’s involvement in lobbying efforts in the U.S.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges, that have included money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying, that have been brought against him.

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