Paul Manafort. Picture: REUTERS
Paul Manafort. Picture: REUTERS

Washington — Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of US President Donald Trump’s campaign, may have tried to obtain false testimony from a potential witness at one of his upcoming criminal trials, special counsel Robert Mueller told a Washington judge on Monday evening.

Manafort faces five federal charges, including illegal lobbying for Ukraine and conspiracy to launder money, in a revised indictment filed against him in February. Originally indicted in October, he has pleaded not guilty and is currently confined to his home on a $10m bond.

The alleged tampering with a potential witness, if true, would be a crime, violating the terms of Manafort’s pre-trial release.

The special counsel’s office has now asked US district judge Amy Berman Jackson to reconsider those release terms, telling her that after the superseding charges were lodged, he contacted two public relations firm executives and attempted to persuade at least one of them to alter his account of events underlying the lobbying-related charges.

That person, identified in the filing only as "D1", told an FBI agent he understood Manafort’s outreach — including on an encrypted application — to be an effort to "suborn perjury" because Manafort was asserting facts contrary to what D1 believed to be accurate.

Manafort has also been indicted on federal tax-related charges in Alexandria, Virginia. He faces trial there on July 24 and in Washington, before Jackson, on September 17.