Former Manafort colleagues told Mueller he attempted to influence their testimony: report

Former Manafort colleagues told Mueller he attempted to influence their testimony: report
© Greg Nash

Two veteran journalists who previously worked with embattled former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller asks for delay in Gates sentencing: filing Mueller targets Stone in final push 5 things to know about new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker MORE reportedly offered information to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE that resulted in recent accusations that Manafort attempted to tamper with witnesses.

The journalists previously helped lead consulting and lobbying work in an attempt to prop up the reputation of former Russia-aligned Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in a business endeavor that Manafort funded with $2.4 million from overseas accounts, according to The New York Times.

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The journalists’ decision to turn on Manafort is what prompted special counsel Robert Mueller to accuse Manafort earlier this week of attempting to tamper with witnesses, according to the report. Manafort will appear in court on Friday at a hearing on the witness tampering allegations.

The former Trump campaign chair has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges related to his pre-campaign work, including money laundering, tax fraud and conspiracy against the United States.

The business partners are just the latest Manafort associates to turn on him, the most significant being his former business associate Richard Gates. Gates, who was named in the same indictment as Manafort, pleaded guilty in February to two charges and is cooperating with Mueller.

Current Manafort allies told the Times that Manafort feels “betrayed” and believes that Mueller is attempting to pressure him to turn on President TrumpDonald John TrumpMia Love pulls ahead in Utah race as judge dismisses her lawsuit Trump administration denies exploring extradition of Erdoğan foe for Turkey Trump congratulates Kemp, says Abrams will have 'terrific political future' MORE in the probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the presidential election.

In court filings, federal prosecutors accused Manafort of trying to reach the journalists beginning in February in an attempt to “shape” the information they told prosecutors.

Three Times sources identified the two journalists as Alan Friedman and Eckart Sager.

According to the filings, Manafort and another of his associates with ties to Russian intelligence tried to reach Friedman and Sager via phone calls and encrypted texts. Rather than engaging with Manafort, the men informed Mueller that their former associate had tried to persuade them to “suborn perjury” and lie to investigators.

Mueller’s team asked a court on Monday to revoke Manafort’s pretrial release conditions, saying that his attempts to contact the associates were “in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence.”