10:43, June 05 158 0 abajournal.com

2018-06-05 10:43:09
Prosecutors claim Paul Manafort tried to tamper with witnesses while under house arrest

The special counsel’s office has accused President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, of trying to tamper with potential witnesses while awaiting trial on charges of money laundering, illegal lobbying, and tax and bank fraud.

In a motion filed Monday, prosecutors said Manafort and an associate tried to contact two potential witnesses by phone and through encrypted text messages in an effort to secure false testimony, report the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, the Washington Post, the National Law Journal and Politico. According to press reports, the associate appears to be Manafort’s Ukrainian business colleague, Konstantin Kilimnik.

An FBI affidavit cites evidence of the attempted contacts in messages provided by the potential witnesses, telephone records and documents recovered through a court-authorized search of Manafort’s iCloud account.

Prosecutors said the attempts threaten the integrity of the trial, even though Manafort is accused of white-collar offenses and the tampering efforts “have not been violent in nature.” He has not been charged with witness tampering.

Manafort is on home confinement and is wearing GPS monitoring devices. The legal filing suggested jailing may be necessary. “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,” the motion said.

Manafort was originally charged last October with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements, and failure to file required reports on foreign bank accounts. A superseding indictment disclosed in February claimed Manafort engaged in tax fraud, lied to banks, and engaged in an illegal lobbying scheme.

According to prosecutors, Manafort had secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to act as third-party lobbyists for Ukraine in Europe and Washington, D.C. They referred to themselves as the Hapsburg Group.

The legal papers say Manafort tried to contact two principals with the Hapsburg Group after the superseding indictment became public to try to influence them to say the group operated only in Europe.