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Manafort, Russian Associate Now Face Obstruction of Justice Charges

President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives at the federal courthouse Nov. 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — The third superseding indictment against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is the first from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to charge an American and a Russian together.

A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned the third superseding indictment today accusing Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik of Moscow with obstruction of justice as they “knowingly and intentionally attempted to corruptly persuade” two people associated with Manafort’s lobbying operation “with intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.”

Manafort is charged with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements. Manafort and Kilimnik are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

Earlier this week, Mueller asked the court to revoke Manafort’s house arrest and potentially keep him in jail until trial under the allegation that Manafort has been engaging in felony witness tampering.

In a 94-page document filed in the U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia, where Manafort faces a 32-count indictment includes charges of false income tax returns, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, bank fraud conspiracy, and bank fraud, Mueller said Manafort and a person connected to Russian intelligence — Kilimnik — had been contacting potential witnesses and asking them to lie to investigators.

Manafort is currently under house arrest, allowed outside with GPS monitoring under limited circumstances such as court dates and doctor’s appointments. Prosecutors allege he used encrypted WhatsApp messages and phone calls to witness tamper, and said the contacts were confirmed through a search of Manafort’s iCloud account.

Manafort allegedly asked two unnamed individuals who had worked with him on lobbying business, including setting up congressional meetings, to tell investigators that their lobbying work had only happened in Europe, and to get their European contacts on the same page as well.

Kilimnik, who worked for Manafort in Ukraine, is believed to also be the Person A in the a document filed in March by the special counsel that said former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was talking to a former Russian intelligence officer before the election, a fact known to Gates at the time.

“That Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent to the investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel’s Office assess that Person A has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016,” said a court filing.

Manafort was on Trump’s campaign team from March to August 2016, starting as a delegate-wrangler and serving as campaign manager in the last three months. Gates came on board with Manafort and stayed for the duration of the campaign, later serving as deputy chairman for Trump’s inaugural committee and then starting a pro-Trump PAC.

Gates struck a plea deal in February on a raft of charges similar to what Manafort is facing.