The office of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has filed a superseding indictment against Paul Manafort, the embattled former chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
The indictment also names Manafort's former business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who has close ties to Russian intelligence, as a codefendant.
The 32-page indictment includes two charges: obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, alleging that Manafort and Kilimnik conspired to intimidate witnesses in Mueller's probe into whether Trump's presidential campaign colluded with foreign powers to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The defendants PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR., and KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK knowingly and intentionally conspired to corruptly persuade another person, to wit: Persons D1 and D2, with intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.
This is a significant development relating to accusations of "collusion," as Mueller's latest indictment is the first to charge both an American and a Russian with the same crimes under the scope of the special counsel's investigation.
The conspiracy charge alleges that Manafort "repeatedly contacted Persons D1 and D2 in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group," a lobbying firm that conducts business on behalf of Ukranian interests.
Kilimnik is the 20th individual to be indicted on criminal charges related to the ongoing Russia investigation. The indictment states that Kilimnik, formerly known as "Person A," wrote to Person D2: "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."
Friday's indictment includes five previous charges against Manafort, which include conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, and false statements.
The new charges against Manafort offer a glimpse into how Mueller is planning on prosecuting 'collusion'- as we learned today, Manafort employed the assistance of a foreign agent to intentionally impede an ongoing federal investigation into the Trump campaign's supposed ties to Russia.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who co-chairs the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted the importance of Friday's development, "shows that Trump’s former campaign chair worked with a Russian with reported ties to Russian intelligence to subvert U.S. law."
On Monday, the special counsel's office accused Manafort of attempting to coax witnesses into committing perjury when they go to testify at his upcoming trials.
Manafort is currently under house arrest and is scheduled to appear in court on June 15, which Mueller requested when prosecutors uncovered evidence of witness tampering. With the new indictments, however, it's likely that the judge overseeing the case will revoke Manafort's $10 million unsecured bail and send him to prison.
Manafort is already facing up to 300 years in prison if he were to be convicted on the first five indictments. He is scheduled to face trial in Virginia in July and then again in DC in September.
In addition to a possible lengthy prison sentence, the indictment states that Manafort's properties will be subject to forfeiture by the government should he be convicted.
The United States will seek forfeiture as part of any sentence in accordance with Title 18, United States Code, Sections 981(a)(1)(C) and 982(a)(1), and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2461(c), in the event of the defendants’ conviction. Upon conviction of the offense charged in Count Two, the
defendant PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR., shall forfeit to the United States any property, real or
personal, involved in such offense, and any property traceable to such property.
The president has repeatedly referred to Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt," but with more than 20 indictments against 20 people, Mueller's hunt has certainly found some witches.