USA special counsel accuses Manafort of witness tampering

Special counsel Robert Mueller in court filings Monday evening accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of witness tampering and asked for a judge to revoke his current house arrest.

In court documents, including an affidavit by Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Brock Domin, prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller allege Manafort and his associate tried to contact the two witnesses by phone and through an encrypted messaging program.

Prosecutors said Mr Manafort has broken violations of his release while he awaits trial.

Mueller is now asking a judge to revoke bail and put Manafort in jail.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation agent's declaration, the PR worker contacted by Manafort "told the government that [he] understood Manafort's messages to be an effort to "suborn perjury" by influencing [his] potential statements".

"We should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn't have been hired", he wrote.

After another minute, prosecutors say he sent yet another message: "If you have a chance to mention this to [Person D1]. - it would be great". The texts started in late February, just after Mueller unsealed a new set of charges against Manafort in Washington, D.C., the prosecutors said.

Manafort's potential value as a prosecution witness is unclear, but as Trump's former campaign chairman he participated in multiple high-level discussions within the campaign that are of great interest to investigators.

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Manafort has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

Court documents do not name Manafort's associate, but they refer to him as "Person A" and note the pseudonym is consistent with previous filings in the case.

Manafort was in charge of the Trump campaign from June through August 2016, but left the team after a secret ledger detailing how he received $12.7 million dollars in payments from pro-Russian political operatives in Ukraine was discovered.

Manafort was indicted in October on nine counts, including conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank accounts, making false and misleading statements, and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal.

Schiff, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Manafort's alleged actions "desperate", and suggested the former Trump campaign aide is anxious about his legal fate.

Mr Trump has denied any collusion with Russian Federation and called the special counsel investigation a "witch hunt".

The witnesses, according to the court filings, worked with Manafort in organizing the Hapsburg Group, described by the counsel's office as "a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States".