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Court documents inadvertently reveal witnesses in Paul Manafort case

CNN logo CNN 6/14/2018 By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) © Mark Wilson/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Federal court documents unsealed Wednesday inadvertently revealed several names of potential witnesses in Paul Manafort's foreign lobbying criminal case, including two people Manafort and his associate Konstantin Kilimnik allegedly pressured to change their story before trial.

The two witnesses Manafort and Kilimnik are accused of tampering with are Eckart Sager and Alan Friedman, former journalists turned public relations specialists who worked with Manafort, the documents said. Sager is a former CNN employee.

Manafort and Kilimnik called and texted them, prosecutors said, after Manafort's deputy Rick Gates flipped to a guilty plea in February and prosecutors said they knew about Manafort's foreign lobbying efforts in the US that were hidden from federal investigators.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the foreign lobbying criminal charges. He and Kilimnik have not yet entered their pleas to the witness tampering allegations.

A memo Manafort received was attached to the court filing Wednesday. It described an effort he, Friedman and Sager spearheaded in 2012 for Ukrainian clients that aimed to bring together European politicians to lobby US members of Congress.

The memo described the effort of former politicians, dubbed the Hapsburg group, as being led by former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer. The memo named several other possible participants from Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain and France, but said Manafort's team had not secured their participation. Manafort's target individuals included a judge, former prime ministers and a former NATO leader.

The memo said Gusenbauer had spoken with Manafort's team, was "willing to be discreet" and would work for them for about 30,000 euros a month.

The plan was for Gusenbauer and the team of Europeans they assembled to "promote the idea of a Ukraine that is closer to Europe than to Russia and to recognize its path toward electoral and economic reforms." One of the Ukrainian politicians Manafort promoted at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, was later ousted from the presidency in the 2014 revolution and fled to Russia.

The court filing made public Wednesday previously was under seal and privately submitted to Judge Amy Berman Jackson as part of the ongoing dispute over Manafort's bail. After the court made the filing public without redactions, the documents were replaced with names blocked out.

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