Special counsel Robert Mueller in court filings Monday evening accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of witness tampering and asked for a judge to revoke his current house arrest and send him to jail.
Prosecutors alleged that Manafort sought to shape the testimony of witnesses beginning earlier this year. They claim that a person they dub as Person A reached out over encrypted texts to two former business associates of Manafort who were involved in his Ukraine lobbying work, according to the filings. The texts started in late February, just after Mueller unsealed a new indictment against Manafort in Washington, D.C., the prosecutors said.
Manafort has been charged in D.C. with money laundering, false statements and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. He also faces charges that include bank fraud and tax fraud in Virginia. He’s pleaded not guilty in both cases.
The charges that were revealed in late February included allegations that Manafort used a group of former European leaders — called the “Hapsburg” group — to secretly promote Ukraine’s Party of Regions in the United States. According to Monday’s filing, Person A sought to communicate with two former Manafort associates who worked at a PR firm that acted as a intermediary between him and the “Hapsburg” group.
Person A told one associate that Manafort wanted to get in touch with the second associate 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,” according to the texts quoted in the filings.
Manafort himself also attempted to reach one of the associates via texts and phone calls himself, according to a log of the alleged communications provided in the filings. One of those texts was a link to February 25 Business Insider story about how European politicians believed to be members of the Hapsburg group were reacting to Mueller’s allegations.
Mueller on Monday night filed a number of documents — emails and memos — he says shows that the Hapsburg group was in fact in engaged in lobbying in the United States. They include emails about connecting the European politicians with U.S. Senators, and placing op-eds in American news outlets.
Prosecutors are asking the judge, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, to rethink Manafort’s current placement in home confinement, and suggested that he may need to be put in jail. The move comes after months of back and forth between prosecutors and Manafort over the terms of his release, whether he’s posted sufficient bond for his bail, where he can live and travel, and other related restrictions.
“Manafort’s obstructive conduct—carried out at a time when he was seeking relief from his current conditions of release—instills little confidence that restrictions short of detention will assure Manafort’s compliance with the Court’s orders and prevent him from committing further crimes,” Mueller said.
Read the Mueller request that Manafort’s house arrest be revoked, as well as the affidavit filed by an FBI agent about the communications below. A log of the alleged communications from Manafort and Person A to the two business associates are also below:
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