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Special counsel Mueller reveals new evidence of Paul Manafort's US lobbying efforts for Ukraine

Kevin Breuninger
Manafort was locked up in mid-June after being accused by special counsel Robert Mueller of trying to tamper with witnesses for his upcoming federal trials on charges relating to consulting work he did for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has revealed new evidence that former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort led unregistered U.S. lobbying efforts while working for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

In a court filing Tuesday night as part of Manafort's ongoing criminal case, Mueller made public a draft of a 2013 memo to Yanukovych in which Manafort had touted his pro-Ukraine lobbying group's U.S. engagement efforts. That memo was seized in a search of Manafort's home in Virginia, the filing said.

Manafort is charged with conspiring to launder money and acting as an unregistered foreign agent, among other charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The special counsel on Friday lodged new charges against Manafort, including attempting to tamper with potential witnesses while under house arrest.

The special counsel says that shortly after Manafort was indicted in February, he reached out to a person connected to the lobbying group to establish that he "made clear" it "worked in Europe" — which Manafort knew wasn't true.

Manafort's lawyers pushed back on the new charges, writing in a court filing on Friday that the group was indeed "European-focused."

They also argued that Manafort could not have tampered with witnesses because he had not yet been told who the trial witnesses would be.

But in the 2013 memo drafted to the pro-Russia Yanukovych, Manafort took credit for an increased focus on lobbying in the U.S.

"The strategy for the first quarter of 2013 was to heavily engage with the [U.S. government] and US Congress, using a strategy I built," Manafort said in the memo.

Mueller also said Manafort and others, including his longtime associate Rick Gates, discussed lobbying U.S. senators and working to plant favorable op-ed stories in U.S. news outlets, including The New York Times.

Gates, who also faced numerous charges in the case, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy against the United States and lying to the FBI.

The special counsel says Manafort's proposed $10 million bail package should be revoked because of his activities while under house arrest.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson will hold a hearing on Manafort's bail, as well as an arraignment on the new witness tampering charges, on Friday morning in Washington.