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 ManafortThere was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder Treasury: Manafort associate passed 'sensitive' campaign data to Russian intelligence Hunter Biden blasts Trump in new book: 'A vile man with a vile mission' MORE reportedly offered information to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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.


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 TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' 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.”