Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Friday denied allegations from special counsel Robert Mueller that he engaged in witness tampering. Manafort accused Mueller of a “not too-subtle attempt to poison the potential jury pool.”
Manafort’s claims came in a court filing that said the communications flagged by the special counsel were “irrelevant, innocuous and unsupportive of the conjured witness tampering claim.”
The court filing argued Manafort did not violate the conditions imposed on him when he was placed under house arrest in October.
“In fact, nothing in the Release Order bars Mr. Manafort from communicating with others, whether those individuals are possible witnesses at his trial or otherwise. Mr. Manafort does not know the individuals that the Special Counsel intends to call at his trial. The Special Counsel has not provided Mr. Manafort with its witness list. Indeed, previously,” Manafort said.
His filing was in response to allegations made in court documents by Mueller that starting in February, Manafort and a longtime business deputy sought to make contact with two former associates involved in their Ukraine lobbying work. Mueller on Friday filed obstruction of justice charges against Manafort and his business deputy, Konstantin Kilimnik. According to Mueller, the two associates helped coordinate a group of ex-European politicians known as the Hapsburg Group, who promoted Ukraine’s Party of Regions in Europe and the United States. Among the alleged texts Mueller highlighted was one in which Kilimnik told one associate that Manafort wanted 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.” Mueller also included in court filings emails and memos that he says show that the Hapsburg Group lobbied in the United States.
Manafort’s filing on Friday was not responding to the obstruction of justice charges, but to an earlier request by Mueller that the judge consider putting him in detention before his trial due to the alleged witness tampering.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson will hold a hearing on the matter on June 15.
Manafort on Friday denied that he was attempting to change the testimonies of witnesses, citing a lack of evidence put forward by the special counsel.
He said the texts surfaced by the special counsel were “entirely consistent with Mr. Manafort’s stated position and repeated assertion of his innocence.”
Manafort’s attorneys also filed a memo that they say was written by one of the associates that “clearly demonstrates the European focus of the group, identifies Europeans as the group’s members, and shows that the conferences that were planned were to occur in Europe.”
“The Court should not condone such heavyhanded gamesmanship by the Special Counsel when there is no reason to believe that the latest charge has somehow increased the risk of flight in this case. ”
Read Manafort’s filing below: