Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, on trial for several felonies surrounding his activities in Eastern Europe before his role in the campaign, denied Tuesday Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors’ allegation he and an associate attempted to tamper with witnesses due to testify in his case.
“Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense,” Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni told Brietbart News in a statement Tuesday. “We will do our talking in court.”
Andrew Weissman, Mueller’s leading prosecutor attached to his Special Counsel’s Office “Russia investigation,” dropped a series of serious accusations on Manafort and another unnamed person Monday in a motion to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Weissman is seeking to have Manafort sent back to jail while he awaits trial, arguing his alleged attempt to tamper with witnesses represents a violation of the terms of his bail agreement, under which Manafort is now able to remain on home detention.
According to the declaration from an FBI agent attached to the motion, the two men repeatedly sought to contact a pair of public relations people with whom they supposedly worked during the advocacy for long-since ousted pro-Russian President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych. The motion claims the PR workers believed Manafort and his associate were trying to influence their testimony and “suborn perjury.”
On Tuesday, Judge Berman Jackson set a Friday, June 15 date for a hearing on Weissman’s motion, at which time Manafort could be sent to jail. The FBI agent on whose declaration the witness tampering allegations are based, Brock Domin, is ordered to “be present and available testify” at the hearing. Manafort’s team will have until this Friday to file their response to the allegations.
Manafort’s trial before Judge Berman Jackson is in federal court in Washington, DC. He and partner Robert Gates face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). He also faces similar charges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia.
The allegations in both trials concern conduct alleged to have occurred years before Manafort joined the Trump campaign. At his Virginia trial, Manafort’s lawyers have made some headway in their argument that the indictment brought by Special Counsel Mueller’s prosecutors exceeds the authority granted to them, ostensibly to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.