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U.S. Judge Orders Ex-Trump Aide To Respond To New Accusations In Russia Probe


U.S. President Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort

A U.S. judge has ordered President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to respond to the government's bid to revoke his release ahead of trial and set a June 15 hearing on the matter.

The U.S. District Court judge on June 5 gave Manafort's team until June 8 to respond to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's accusation that he attempted to tamper with potential witnesses -- a charge Mueller cited in asking the court to revoke or revise an order releasing Manafort ahead of his trial.

Manafort's spokesman Jason Maloni denied the allegation on June 5, saying his client is "innocent" and "we will do our talking in court."

Mueller is investigating ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 election campaign. Manafort has been the most senior official indicted in the investigation and faces charges ranging from money-laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent to tax fraud. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Mueller's team in his latest court filing on June 4 accused Manafort and a close associate of trying to communicate with two people from the "Hapsburg" public relations firm they had worked with to promote the interests of Ukraine prior to 2014.

Mueller alleges that the communications, which allegedly took place in February and are barred under terms of his release, amounted to an effort to influence the potential witnesses' testimony and conceal evidence.

Mueller's court filing did not name Manafort's associate, only referring to him as "Person A." The Associated Press reported that Person A is likely Konstantin Kilimnik, an aide to Manafort both during the campaign and when he worked as a consultant to the government of Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow-friendly Ukrainian president who was ousted and fled to Russia in 2014.

U.S. prosecutors have said in court filings that Person A has ties to Russian intelligence.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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