Mueller accuses Manafort of attempted witness tampering

Trump says Manafort wouldn't have been hired if FBI told him about probe into overseas work

Robert Mueller, the USA special counsel investigating alleged Russian election interference, has accused Donald Trump's former campaign manager of attempting to tamper with witnesses.

According to a new court filing, which cites Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Brock Domin, Manafort and his associate, denoted in the document as "Person A", reached out to two witnesses associated with Manafort's past lobbying activities in an apparent attempt to coach their stories.

That could result in Mr Manafort, who has been under house arrest since October, being jailed ahead of his trial. Prosecutors also submitted the filing they made in DC to the judge overseeing Manafort's financial crimes case in Virginia, T.S. Ellis, in case he wants to change Manafort's bail terms there.

According to Domin, Manafort's communications were "an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise hide evidence". Early in the case, after he was released to his home, they investigators said they intercepted emails showing Manafort helped write an opinion piece defending his actions that ran in a Ukrainian publications. They also said an associate of Manafort's tried to contact a potential witness a couple of times.

The new allegation places even more pressure on the former Trump campaign chairman, who has stared down prosecutors as they heaped charges on him and say they continue to investigate the possibility that he coordinated with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. But prosecutors say they worked with Manafort in organizing a group of former European officials who lobbied within the U.S. without registering.

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The court filings are available here.

According to a February indictment, Manafort in 2012 and 2013 used offshore accounts to wire more than 2 million euros to pay the former politicians, who were described as independent actors instead of paid lobbyists.

According to the court filing, Manafort called and messaged one of the witnesses on 24 February, the day after his longtime associate and a former Trump campaign official entered guilty pleas to conspiracy and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gingrich's comments come after Mr. Trump declared Monday that he has the "absolute right" to pardon himself, but added he had done nothing wrong.

Special Counsel prosecutors say Mr Manafort was "attempting to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release and, accordingly, has violated the conditions of his release".

Trump himself has denied collusion with Russian Federation, and repeatedly called Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt".

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