Mueller Says Manafort Attempted Witness Tampering

In a court filing yesterday, Special Counsel Bob Mueller said that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who is under indictment for a variety of charges, attempted to tamper with witnesses after he was released to home confinement following his October arraignment.

Eric Beech and Lisa Lambert at Reuters report:
FBI Special Agent Brock Domin, in a declaration filed with Mueller's motion, said Manafort had attempted to call, text, and send encrypted messages in February to two people from "The Hapsburg Group," a firm he worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine.

The FBI has documents and statements from the two people, as well as telephone records and documents recovered through a search of Manafort's iCloud account showing that Trump's former campaign manager attempted communication while he was out on bail, according to Domin.

The communications were "in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence," Domin wrote. "The investigation into this matter is ongoing."

Manafort is the most senior member of Trump's campaign to be indicted, though the charges do not relate to campaign activities.

Mueller urged Judge Amy Berman Jackson to "promptly" schedule a hearing on the whether to change Manafort's conditions of release, which could result in Manafort going to jail.
That was always going to happen, because this is who Paul Manafort is. Which is why I always thought it was an extremely curious decision for Manafort to be released while he awaits trial. Others argue that Mueller was giving Manafort enough rope to hang himself, but that was a very risky strategy, if that were Mueller's plan. (Which is to say nothing of the fact that Manafort is a flight risk.) And it may still backfire, since this new filing only addresses the potential witness tampering that Mueller knows of.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump spent the days leading up to this news tweeting about how he barely knows Paul Manafort, despite the fact that he served as Trump's campaign chair, they've known each other since the '80s, and Manafort has lived at Trump Tower since 2006.

Which, as Seth Abramson noted on Twitter, raises a pressing question: "Note that Trump suddenly began tweeting about Manafort — trying to distance himself from him, after not discussing him much for months — over the past 48-72 hours. What did he hear about this sudden Mueller filing beforehand — and how, and from whom?"

My guess is Jeff Sessions. Who has remained incredibly loyal to Trump, despite Trump's constant public berating — possibly because it benefits both of them "to look like antagonists instead of collaborators consolidating power."

Irrespective of who told Trump that a filing on Manafort was forthcoming, someone did, and that is a mighty big problem.

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