Special counsel Bob Mueller has charged Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort with obstruction of justice in a second, superseding indictment handed down on Friday. In addition, Manafort’s longtime associate, Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, is now facing those charges as well.
The indictment, issued in federal court for the District of Columbia, fleshes out charges that Mueller’s team first hinted at earlier this week, when they asked a federal judge to change the terms for Manafort’s bail because of alleged witness tampering. According to the new indictment, Manafort retained a lobbying firm—referred to as Company D—to interface with a group of European politicians called the Hapsburg Group that he had assembled to advocate for Ukraine’s then-president, the Vladimir Putin-friendly Viktor Yanukovych. According to the indictment, Manafort and Kilimnik tried to persuade two employees of Company D to mislead investigators.
Both men, according to the indictment, “knowingly and intentionally attempted to corruptly persuade” their two former colleagues “with intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.”
Court filings from earlier this week gave a more detailed description of Manafort’s alleged witness-tampering than the indictment itself. But those documents did not name Kilimnik. Instead, they said that Manafort and an unnamed person—presumably Kilimnik, given today’s indictment—reached out to two people who had worked for Company D on the lobbying effort and asked them to tell investigators that the lobbying work didn’t happen in the United States. According to the special counsel, the Hapsburg Group did in fact work in both Europe and the United States.
Kilimnik, who has been described as Manafort’s protege, worked closely with him during his time in Ukraine. According to Politico, he ran Manafort’s Ukraine office and worked with him to promote an oligarch-funded party called the Opposition Bloc that arose after Yanukovych fled the country for Russia. There have been reports that Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence though he has denied any intelligence connections.