Mueller revealed the names of the 2 witnesses Paul Manafort allegedly tried to tamper with

  • The special counsel Robert Mueller may have inadvertently revealed the names of two potential witnesses that Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, allegedly tried to tamper with in the Russia investigation.
  • The witnesses are former journalists Alan Friedman and Eckart Sager, both of whom were involved in a lobbying group's efforts to bolster former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's reputation in the US in 2013.
  • Shortly after Mueller's office filed documents in court revealing Friedman's and Sager's names, prosecutors refiled the documents with redactions.

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The special counsel Robert Mueller's office revealed on Wednesday the names of two potential witnesses that Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump's campaign, allegedly tried to tamper with in the Russia investigation.

The individuals are Alan Friedman and Eckart Sager, both former journalists based in Europe. Friedman and Sager spearheaded efforts by the Hapsburg Group — a lobbying group consisting of former European leaders — to lobby on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in Europe and the US.

Shortly after filing documents that revealed Friedman's and Sager's names, the special counsel refiled the court documents with the names redacted.

Manafort and his associate, the former Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik, were indicted last week on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice based on their alleged attempts to tamper with witness testimony.

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U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Kevin Downing (C), attorney for President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a bond hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court after a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort (L) leaves U.S. Federal Court after being arraigned on twelve federal charges in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Washington, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort (L) leaves U.S. Federal Court after being arraigned on twelve federal charges in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Washington, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, one focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, hides behind his car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort departs U.S. District Court after a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort uses a sun visor to block the view of photographers as departs U.S. District Court after a hearing in the first charges stemming from a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 2: Ex Trump campaign official Paul Manafort, center, departs U.S. District Court with his attorney Kevin Downing, left, on November, 02, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, walks out of the U.S. Courthouse after a bond hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Manafort, 68, an international political consultant, was accused along with his right-hand man, Rick Gates, of lying to U.S. authorities about their work in Ukraine, laundering millions of dollars, and hiding offshore accounts. Both pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Former Donald Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Thursday November 02, 2017 in Washington, DC. Manafort faces several charges. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his wife Kathleen arrive at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse for a bail hearing November 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates both pleaded not guilty Monday to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: Kevin Downing, attorney of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, arrives at a U.S. District Court House November 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are scheduled to be back in court for a bond hearing this morning after they pleaded not guilty on October 30 to charges in a 12-count indictment, ranging from money laundering to acting as unregistered agents of Ukraine's former pro-Russian government. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, right, arrives to the U.S. Courthouse for a bond hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Manafort, 68, an international political consultant, was accused along with his right-hand man, Rick Gates, of lying to U.S. authorities about their work in Ukraine, laundering millions of dollars, and hiding offshore accounts. Both pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 6: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse after a court hearing on the terms of his bail and house arrest on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: Richard Gates arrives at the Prettyman Federal Court Building for a hearing November 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Gates and former business partner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort both pleaded not guilty Monday to a 12-charge indictment that included money laundering and conspiracy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Kevin Downing, who is an attorney for Paul Manafort exits the William B. Bryant Annex United States Courthouse after Manfort was indicted on several charges on Monday October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort gets into his car after leaving federal court, October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for US President Donald Trump, leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Court House after being charged October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of conspiracy and money laundering after the Justice Department unveiled the first indictments in the probe into Russian election interference. Manafort, 68, and business partner Rick Gates, 45, both entered not guilty pleas in a Washington court after being read charges that they hid millions of dollars they earned working for former Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Moscow political party. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, right, exits the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. The federal investigation into whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russia took a major turn Monday as authorities charged three people a former campaign chief, his business associate and an ex-policy adviser -- with crimes including money laundering, lying to the FBI and conspiracy. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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In a separate filing last week, prosecutors detailed Manafort's and Kilimnik's activities which are said to have taken place over several days in February, after Manafort's longtime associate Rick Gates pleaded guilty and began cooperating with prosecutors. Friedman and Sager were initially named as "Person D1" and "Person D2" in court documents, respectively.

In one communication, Manafort sent Friedman a message with a link to a Business Insider article about the Hapsburg Group's activities. The article said, among other things, that the Hapsburg Group worked in the US and in Europe. One minute after sending the article, Manafort sent Friedman a message saying he had "made clear" that the group worked only in Europe.

Friedman subsequently contacted Mueller's office and said he believed Manafort's messages were part of an effort to "suborn perjury," or coax them into giving false testimony, because he knew the group worked in both Europe and the US.

Meanwhile, when Friedman didn't respond to Manafort's messages, Kilimnik reached out to Sager to relay the same message and told Sager Manafort had been attempting to reach Friedman.

In light of Manafort's and Kilimnik's alleged activities, prosecutors asked US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, DC to revoke Manafort's bail. She will make a decision on the matter on Friday.

Manafort's lawyers, meanwhile, argue that the Hapsburg Group's lobbying campaign on Yanukovych's behalf was in Europe and that Manafort's and Kilimnik's outreach to Friedman and Sager proves that. Manafort's arraignment on the witness-tampering charge is also scheduled for Friday, and he is expected to plead not guilty.

In response to Manafort's lawyers' claim that the Hapsburg Group's lobbying was limited to Europe, Mueller's office submitted two memos involving Friedman, Sager, Manafort, and Yanukovych to the court in a Tuesday night filing. The memos appear to show the group working to improve Yanukovych's image in the US in addition to Europe.

Manafort's and the Hapsburg Group's outreach to Congress

The first memo was an email from Sager to Friedman sent in March 2013, with the subject "Great First Day."

In addition to meeting with people from two companies, Sager also told Friedman he and a member of the Hapsburg Group met with lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"[Hapsburg Group member] did well, reading off our talking points," Sager wrote. That member is likely former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, who was visiting Washington and met with lawmakers that month. "The Republicans especially were quite [Tymoshenko] heavy, with one [senator] dwelling a bit on it," Sager continued.

He was referring to Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who was Yanukovych’s rival during the country’s 2010 presidential election. Tymoshenko was tried and jailed in 2011 after the Ukrainian government convicted her of abuse of power. The news drew criticism from human-rights groups and countries including the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain, who said the Yanukovych government’s conviction of Tymoshenko was politically motivated.

Sager wrote in his March 2013 email to Friedman that although Republicans asked questions about the Tymoshenko case, "[Hapsburg Group member] was solid … urging inclusion, a 'vigilant' Russia, trade opportunities, etc. PJM later said he had received two calls right after the meetings, praising [Hapsburg Group member]."

"PJM" is a likely reference to Manafort, whose full name is Paul J. Manafort.

Sager said he met with "PJM" following the meeting with lawmakers.

Prosecutors also submitted a second memo to the court, this one sent in April 2013 from Manafort to Yanukovych. The memo was titled, "US Consultants — Quarterly Report."

The memo focused largely on describing the "considerable ground" Ukraine was gaining in "enhancing its relationship with the USG," or the US government.

"This is largely a result of building a comprehensive strategy that adopted issues of importance to the USG, and focusing on key and positive messages to better inform key members of the USG about Ukraine’s objectives which are in alignment with the West," Manafort wrote.

He added that he had "organized and leveraged the visits of" two Hapsburg Group members "to make critical in-roads in how policymakers view Ukraine." The members are likely Prodi and former Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer.

Manafort wrote that the lobbying strategy for the first quarter of 2013 was to "heavily engage" with Congress and the US government to focus attention away from Tymoshenko and toward "positive key issues" Yanukovych’s government was addressing.

"One of the most critical goals that we have achieved during this quarter is to prevent the application of any sanctions against the [government of Ukraine] or its officials," he wrote, adding that he and the Hapsburg Group had accomplished that goal by "implementing key messages from the 'Engage Ukraine' strategy, many of which resonate with key US officials."

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