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Judge Orders Mueller to Name Key Players in Manafort’s Ukraine-Lobbying Operation

Paul Manafort arrives at a hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., January 16, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

A federal judge has ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller to identify by Friday all of the individuals and companies involved in former Trump-campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Ukraine-lobbying operation.

Mueller will be required to turn over to the defense the names of top European politicians who participated in Manafort’s efforts to lobby on behalf of Ukraine without registering as a foreign agent, as is required under U.S. law, Politico first reported.

The Tuesday ruling also requires the special counsel to identify other witnesses whose testimony Manafort has been accused of trying to influence — an accusation that resulted in two new felony obstruction of justice charges last week.

“While the government may be correct that the law does not necessarily require the Court to order the requested disclosure, the Court has broad discretion to resolve a motion for a bill of particulars after weighing the parties’ interests, and here, defendant is obliged to prepare for a complex trial with a voluminous record within a relatively short period of time, and he should not have to be surprised at a later point by the addition of a new name or allegation,” U.S. District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote.

The decision is a welcome relief for Manafort’s embattled defense team, which is currently representing him in federal courts in Virginia, where Jackson is presiding, and Washington, D.C., where their client faces faces charges of money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, and obstruction of justice. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

While Mueller’s attorneys resisted calls to identify the other witnesses in the case — likely due to the constraints placed on their ability to charge individuals and companies not currently on the list — the most prominent individuals that will likely be named, including former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi and former Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, who have both acknowledged involvement in Manafort’s foreign-lobbying campaign.

Mueller’s team must hand over the list of names to Manafort’s lawyers by Friday but will not be required to make the names public.

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