In yet another stunning indication that Donald Trump willfully chooses to surround himself with criminals, Paul Manafort — the president’s indicted former campaign manager — has been accused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of attempting to tamper with potential witnesses, reports Reuters.
Mueller has requested that the judge presiding over the case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia revoke or revise an order that released Manafort into house arrest in the lead-up to his trial.
Both Manafort and his business associate Richard Gates stand accused of conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, acting as unregistered agents for a foreign power, and making false statements.
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FBI Special Agent Brock Domin filed a declaration in conjunction with Mueller’s statement and stated that while on bail Manafort tried to call, text, and use encrypted messages to contact two individuals in The Hapsburg Group. Manafort worked with The Hapsburg Group during his time working in Ukraine. Reuters adds that the FBI has documents and statements from the individuals in question, as well as digital proof obtained from Manafort’s iCloud data.
The missives were sent “in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence. The investigation into this matter is ongoing,” wrote Domin.
Details are still vague and it’s yet to be revealed which witnesses Manafort attempted to influence and whether he sought to threaten them outright or coerce them in other ways to help him.
If Manafort is found guilty of the crimes for which has been indicted, it’s possible he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. With this in mind, it’s not difficult to see why a man as corrupt and habitually immoral as Manafort would seek to unfairly influence his own trial.
That said, if Mueller can prove the former campaign manager tried to tamper with witnesses, Manafort will be slammed with another serious crime atop his pile of priors. Things are looking increasingly grim for Trump’s ally and this new accusation substantially raises the incentive for him to flip and reveal what he knows about the president’s misdeeds in an effort to save his own skin.