Prosecutors are seeking an immediate hearing to determine whether former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an unidentified person repeatedly contacted two other people by phone and encrypted text messages “in an effort to secure materially false testimony.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller accused Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, of tampering with witnesses ahead of his trial on charges involving illegal lobbying work. Prosecutors called for an immediate hearing to determine whether Manafort and an unidentified person repeatedly contacted two other people by phone and encrypted text messages “in an effort to secure materially false testimony” concerning the activities at the center of February’s superseding indictment, Politico reports. Backed by an affidavit from FBI agent Brock Domin, Mueller said Manafort and a longtime associate described as “Person A” tried to contact other members of the so-called Hapsburg Group, a collection of former senior European politicians who were working with Manafort and covertly promoting Ukrainian interests in Washington.
Mueller said that Person A, who has been identified as Konstantin Kilimnik, a Kiev-based operative believed to have Russian intelligence ties, separately tried to contact another member of the Hapsburg Group. “Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU,” Person A said in one text message. Mueller accused Manafort in February of secretly hiring the “SUPER VIP” group known as the Hapsburg Group as part of his lobbying campaign conducted on behalf of the Ukrainian president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych.