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Judge orders Mueller probe to turn over names of European politicians in alleged Manafort lobbying scheme

In this Feb. 14, 2018 photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
In this Feb. 14, 2018 photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

A federal judge has ordered prosecutors to tell Paul Manafort by Friday the names of the European politicians and unidentified “others” that investigators allege were part of Manafort’s secret lobbying campaign for Ukraine.

The deadline falls on the same day that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia is set to decide whether to jail President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager while he awaits trial after prosecutors charge he tampered with witnesses in the ongoing cases.

In a five-page order Tuesday, Jackson mostly denied Manafort’s challenge to the legal adequacy of his indictment in the District of Columbia for conspiracy and money laundering brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Jackson found the charges sufficiently “specific” and “suffices to put the defendant on notice of the nature of the charges against him.”

However, Jackson found what she called “one minor exception” in saying Manafort’s legal team should be given the names of the politicians and others to help him prepare for “a complex trial with a voluminous record within a relatively short period of time …”

Prosecutors contend Manafort conspired with three public relations firms, a law firm and others to advocate on behalf of the Ukraine government in 2012 but failed to register in the U.S. as a lobbyist for a foreign government.

The judge said Manafort “should not have to be surprised at a later point by the addition of a new name or allegation.”

Manafort, 69, has pleaded not guilty to indictments in Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Virginia, on charges that he laundered more than $30 million in a decade of undisclosed lobbying for Ukraine, as well as to tax and bank fraud charges. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases and has been held on home detention since he was charged in October in Mueller’s continuing probe.

Manafort had been close to getting court approval for a $10 million bail deal that would have freed him from electronic monitoring and other restrictions.

But ahead of that decision, Mueller’s office filed court papers accusing Manafort of witness tampering and asked a judge to revise or revoke conditions of his release. Prosecutors followed up Friday with a fresh indictment charging Manafort and a longtime business associate – Konstantin Kilimnik, 47 – of conspiring to obstruct justice by swaying testimony from potential witnesses about the lobbying work to make it appear it did not involve American officials.

Kilimnik, who was not previously charged, is believed to be in Moscow and probably safe from arrest because Russia does not extradite its citizens.

Manafort is scheduled for trial in July in Alexandria and in September in Washington.

His alleged financial crimes largely predate his time on the Trump campaign.