Russia probe: Special counsel accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering | News | DW | 05.06.2018
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Russia probe: Special counsel accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering

The former chair of US President Donald Trump's presidential campaign is facing several criminal charges related to his work for Ukraine. He allegedly tried to sway witness testimonies while under house arrest.

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller has accused Trump's embattled former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, of trying to tamper with witnesses while under house arrest.

Mueller, who is leading an investigation into possible collusion between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, made the allegations in a court filing on Monday.

Read more: Dutch lawyer first person sentenced as part of Robert Mueller's Russia probe

In it, his team accuses Manafort and an unnamed associate of trying to call, text and send encrypted messages in February to two potential witnesses at "The Hapsburg Group," a lobbying association of former European officials that promoted the former Ukrainian government's interests.

Manafort's communication attempts were part of an effort to try and influence the testimonies of the witnesses, who are not named in the filing, and occurred while he was under house arrest, according to the filing.

Read more: European politicians got millions to lobby for pro-Russian government in Ukraine

In response, Mueller asked the judge overseeing the case to convene a hearing on whether to revoke the decision that allowed Manafort to be released to home confinement until the start of his trial.

Ukrainian connection

Since October, Manafort has faced charges of money laundering, fraud and failing to register himself as a representative of a foreign government in connection with his work for Ukraine's former pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. He has pleaded not guilty.

Although a part of the Mueller probe, the charges are not directly linked to the Trump campaign.

US intelligence agencies have accused the Russian government of interfering in the 2016 presidential election to try sway the vote in favor of Trump. The president has described the accusations of Russian meddling a "hoax."

On Monday, Trump claimed to have an "absolute right" to pardon himself should the special counsel find he interfered in the investigation, an assertation which has been questioned by legal experts.

Read more: Donald Trump's 'absolute right to pardon myself' does not exist

amp/se (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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