Special counsel indicts Russian, adds charges against Manafort

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

WASHINGTON ― Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has secured an indictment against a Russian-Ukrainian political consultant who worked with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Instead, Mueller is going after the long-time lobbyist for allegedly not reporting his work for the Ukrainian government, as required under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), laundering the profits through offshore companies and bank accounts, and failing to pay US taxes.

Meanwhile, President Trump on Friday dismissed any talk of pardoning Manafort or his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is under investigation by federal prosecutors in NY.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his failure to disclose his United States lobbying work for a foreign government and to bank fraud and other financial crimes.

For Manafort though, the charges come at a perilous time, just hours before his lawyers were due to file legal briefs explaining why he should be allowed to remain free on bond pending his trial scheduled for next month in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Manafort and Kilimnik worked together on behalf of the former government of Ukraine, prosecutors say.

Earlier this week Mr Manafort was accused of witness tampering. A witness told investigators recently that Manafort wanted them to commit perjury about a lobbying effort they worked on for him in the USA, a filing in DC District Court said.

The charges mark the second time since his October indictment that Manafort has faced additional criminal charges.

Court papers show the witnesses told investigators they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about their work with a group of former European politicians known as the Hapsburg group.

The filing also argued against any effort by Mueller to revoke or revise the conditions of Manafort's pretrial release from prison.

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In emails, portions of which were read to The Washington Post, Manafort and Kilimnik appeared to discuss how Manafort could use his role with the campaign to make money.

FBI Special Agent Brock Domin, in a declaration filed with Mueller's motion, said Manafort had attempted to call, text and send encrypted messages in February to two people from The Hapsburg Group, a firm he worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine.

The witnesses would eventually rat out Manafort and Kilimnik to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Manafort chaired Trump's presidential campaign and oversaw his delegate operation in the weeks leading up to the Republican National Convention.

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