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The obstruction charges are related to a filing earlier this week in which Mueller's investigators alleged that Manafort and Kilimnik, also linked to Russia's intelligence service, attempted to tamper with the two un-named witnesses - going so far as to allegedly coach their testimony.

The new indictment filed Friday asserts that Manafort and Kilimnik engaged in the obstruction scheme from February 23 through April.

Manafort allegedly sent one of the executives a text that said: "We should talk". Manafort's lawyers had been given a deadline of Friday to respond to those charges.

"The indictment serves a strategic objective in raising public awareness about the connections that those who worked on Trump's campaign had with Russians, and it serves a legal goal by putting more pressure on Manafort to become a cooperating witness", the story says.

Manafort's resignation from the campaign was announced on August 19, 2016, after The Times reported that he'd received $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments from Yanukovych's pro-Russian party between 2007 and 2012.

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The witnesses have told investigators that they believed Manafort and Kilimnik were trying to get them to lie about the nature of his Ukrainian political work.

"The five previously charged counts against Manafort remain unchanged: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements".

Yet Manafort and the public relations people had brought the Hapsburg group to the U.S. to speak with members of Congress about the interests of Viktor Yanukovych, a former Ukrainian president who had jailed a political rival, while posing as independent voices, prosecutors said earlier this week.

The latest Manafort indictment comes as President Trump and his top attorney, Rudy Giuliani, continue to attack the Mueller investigation, blasting it as a partisan "witch hunt".

"Going to the grand jury for a superseding indictment underlines how serious the government is about Manafort's conduct, " said Joyce Vance, a US attorney in Alabama during the Barack Obama administration. It isn't clear yet whether Kilimnik might appear in court in Washington.

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Both the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general and the House intelligence committee are now probing the officials involved and why they launched the operation.

They said Manafort's "limited communications can not be fairly read, either factually or legally, to reflect an intent to corruptly influence a trial witness". The government wants Berman Jackson to rescind Manafort's bail and put him in jail ahead of his trial. Manafort has repeatedly declared his intention to fight the charges in both jurisdictions. Gates is cooperating with prosecutors against Manafort. In some of those earlier filings, Mueller made references to a Manafort associate in Ukraine with ties to Russian intelligence.

The FBI has assessed that Kilimnik had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, including during the 2016 presidential campaign when Manafort and Gates were in contact with him, prosecutors have said in court filings.

Emails show that during the middle of the campaign, Manafort told Kilimnik he was willing to provide "private briefings" about Trump's presidential run to a billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Manafort's alleged actions took place before he joined the Trump campaign, the president said on social media. The July 2016 offer referred to Oleg Deripaska, who has accused Manafort of defrauding him as part of a multimillion-dollar deal several years ago.

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