Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Mueller Names Russian Kilimnik In New Indictment

Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort was named in the reports Image Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort
Sammy Stanley | 09 June, 2018, 02:19

Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted a man with direct ties to both Russian intelligence and the Trump orbit: ex-spy Konstantin Kilimnik.

The charge accuses Manafort of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by failing to register as a foreign agent acting on behalf of the Ukrainian government and allegedly misleading USA authorities about his ties to the country.

In court papers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is alleging that at least one witness in the Manafort case was contacted by the former Trump aide and coached on what he should say about his lobbying practices.

Mr Manafort's lawyers had been given a deadline of Friday to respond to the charges of witness tampering.

The work is the basis for the criminal case in Washington where Manafort faces charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, money-laundering conspiracy and false statements.

Manafort chaired Trump's presidential campaign and oversaw his delegate operation in the weeks leading up to the Republican National Convention. Friday's indictment does not change the counts already against him.

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Prosecutors complained to a federal judge earlier this week that Manafort - and, apparently, Kilimnik - had been contacting people who knew about that work to ask them to tell jurors that the Ukraine lobbying had only taken place inside Europe. One project was to assemble a team of European political leaders who could advocate for Ukraine's then-President Viktor Yanukovych - apparently independently.

Mr Mueller has yet to assert that Mr Manafort's Ukraine and Russian connections resulted in any election-meddling. The longtime Manafort associate once worked for the American's consulting firm in Kiev and has been described as "Manafort's Manafort". Gates, who was originally indicted along with Manafort, has pleaded guilty to two charges and is cooperating with prosecutors.

But beyond the direct effects this indictment will have on Manafort, Mariotti argued that it had wider implications for the Russian Federation investigation as a whole.

Earlier this week Mr Manafort was accused of witness tampering. However, Kilimkin denied any connections to intelligence agencies in a 2017 interview with the United States government outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. "We had charges before in the indictment that I thought were significant and now you add years on to that previous indictment and you say he has to sit down and flip at some point".

Mariotti also highlighted how unusual it was for a defendant like Manafort, who is being monitored and is facing federal charges, to make such a risky move while awaiting trial.

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