New charges filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman in Russia election probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller has brought additional charges against President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and a longtime associate who prosecutors have said has ties to Russian intelligence.
The new indictment was unsealed Friday against Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik just days after prosecutors accused the two men of attempting to tamper with witnesses as Manafort awaits trial of felony charges related to his work on behalf of Ukrainian interests.
The latest charges increase Manafort’s legal jeopardy if he continues an aggressive battle with prosecutors, and could be an effort by Mueller to induce a guilty plea and secure the testimony of a critical campaign adviser to Trump.
They also come as Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have heaped public criticism on the Mueller investigation in an attempt to undermine it.
The charges against Manafort do not relate to his work on the Trump campaign or involve allegations of Russian election interference, a fact that the president has routinely noted as he tried to distance himself from his former top campaign adviser.
The new indictment charges Manafort and Kilimnik with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice related to contacts they had with two witnesses earlier this year.
The witnesses, who had worked with Manafort as he represented a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, have told the FBI that they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about the nature of their work.
The charges mark the second time since October that an indictment against Manafort has been amended to include additional allegations.
Through a spokesman, Manafort, 69, has maintained his innocence.