The special counsel Robert Mueller may have inadvertently revealed the names of two potential witnesses that Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, allegedly tried to tamper with in the Russia investigation.
The witnesses are former journalists Alan Friedman and Eckart Sager, both of whom were involved in a lobbying group’s efforts to bolster former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s reputation in the US in 2013.
Shortly after Mueller’s office filed documents in court revealing Friedman’s and Sager’s names, prosecutors refiled the documents with redactions.
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The special counsel Robert Mueller’s office revealed on Wednesday the names of two potential witnesses that Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, allegedly tried to tamper with in the Russia investigation.
The individuals are Alan Friedman and Eckart Sager, both former journalists based in Europe. Friedman and Sager spearheaded efforts by the Hapsburg Group — a lobbying group consisting of former European leaders — to lobby on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in Europe and the US.
Shortly after filing documents that revealed Friedman’s and Sager’s names, the special counsel refiled the court documents with the names redacted.
Manafort and his associate, the former Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik, were indicted last week on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice based on their alleged attempts to tamper with witness testimony.
In a separate filing last week, prosecutors detailed Manafort’s and Kilimnik’s activities which are said to have taken place over several days in February, after Manafort’s longtime associate Rick Gates pleaded guilty and began cooperating with prosecutors. Friedman and Sager were initially named as “Person D1” and “Person D2” in court documents, respectively.
In one communication, Manafort sent Friedman a message with a link to a Business Insider article about the Hapsburg Group’s activities. The article said, among other things, that the Hapsburg Group worked in the US and in Europe. One minute after sending the article, Manafort sent Friedman a message saying he had “made clear” that the group worked only in Europe.
Friedman subsequently contacted Mueller’s office and said he believed Manafort’s messages were part of an effort to “suborn perjury,” or coax them into giving false testimony, because he knew the group worked in both Europe and the US.
Meanwhile, when Friedman didn’t respond to Manafort’s messages, Kilimnik reached out to Sager to relay the same message and told Sager Manafort had been attempting to reach Friedman.
In light of Manafort’s and Kilimnik’s alleged activities, prosecutors asked US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, DC to revoke Manafort’s bail. She will make a decision on the matter on Friday.
Manafort’s lawyers, meanwhile, argue that the Hapsburg Group’s lobbying campaign on Yanukovych’s behalf was in Europe and that Manafort’s and Kilimnik’s outreach to Friedman and Sager proves that. Manafort’s arraignment on the witness-tampering charge is also scheduled for Friday, and he is expected to plead not guilty.
In response to Manafort’s lawyers’ claim that the Hapsburg Group’s lobbying was limited …read more
Source:: Business Insider