Jun 13, 2018, 8:26 PM ET

Mueller names 'Hapsburg group,' reveals Manafort messages


A new filing from the special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed on Wednesday identifies two former journalists and the content of messages former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Russian associate sent them in February, just two days after a superseding indictment against Manafort.

Interested in Russia Investigation?

Add Russia Investigation as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Russia Investigation news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

The 21-page document also names members of the so-called “Hapsburg group” – described by Mueller in the February superseding indictment of Manafort as "a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States.”

According to the document, some of the key participants of the Hapsburg group are former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Belgian Judge Jean-Paul Moerman, head of the German Federal Chancellory Bodo Hombach and former Spanish NATO head Javier Solana.

The exhibit containing the names of Alan Friedman, Eckart Sager, Konstantin Kliminck, and Hapsburg group members, was filed by the clerk in an unredacted form on Wednesday afternoon but was re-filed a short time later in a redacted form with those names hidden.

Sager did not respond to ABC News' request for comment. Friedman was unable to be reached for comment

The existence of the text messages first came to light earlier this month, but the content of the messages was not publicly known until Wednesday’s filing. Last Thursday, Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling during the 2016 election, cited the messages in accusing Manafort and his Russian associate, Konstantin Kliminck, of witness-tampering.

PHOTO: Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, waits to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, July 27,2010.Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, waits to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled 'Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, July 27,2010.

On Friday, Mueller filed a superseding indictment against Manafort that included Kliminck and new charges for obstruction of justice. Manafort faces two indictments in Washington, D.C., and Virginia on charges related to tax fraud and other financial crimes.

The special counsel has asked a federal judge in Washington, DC, to revoke Manafort's current $10 million bail. A hearing on Manafort’s bail is scheduled for this Friday.

Wednesday’s filing names Friedman and Sager – described in previous filings as Person D1 and Person D2 – as the recipients of Manafort and Kilimnik’s text messages.

According to those filings, on Feb. 26, Manafort sent a Business Insider article, in which it is reported that he had been charged with paying European leaders who were part of the Hapsburg group, to lobby on behalf of Ukraine to Friedman. He then wrote. “We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe.”

In a series of messages sent in late February, Kilimnik asks Sager for assistance contacting Friedman.

“Basically P" - referring to Manafort - "wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU,” Kilimnik wrote to Sager after asking him to mention the messages to Friedman. He then writes, “If you have a chance to mention this to A." - referring to Friedman - "it would be great. It would be good to get them connected to discuss in person. P is his friend.”

In April, Kilimnik reached out to Friedman directly in a message that said, “Hi. This is K. My friend P is looking for ways to connect to you to pass you several messages. Can we arrange that.”

Manafort’s trial in Virginia is slated to begin on July 25. His trial in Washington is scheduled for September 17.

Jack Date and Ali Dukakis contributed reporting.

News - Mueller names 'Hapsburg group,' reveals Manafort messages

RRelated Posts


  • Impetus

    It's a freaking Robert Ludlum book

  • Bill DeWahl

    can you say IG Report?


    MAGA baby!

  • Dale Stein

    Real Americans are tired of Trump and his love for all that is Russian.

  • Dale Stein

    The Russian operative in the White House is going down!

  • Arthur Primavera

    In other words, none of this has anything to do with Russia, Trump or election tampering. Mueller is just trying to justify his existence.

  • Randy

    A lot of varied opinions, but until all the dust settles its just guess work and speculation. Personally I feel Trump is getting a bad rap and that Clinton, Obama and many others in the administration will be eating crow once all the facts are known. That being said I guess we will all just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

  • Rick Caird

    How can anybody be guilty of witness tampering when they don't know who the witnesses are? Besides that, this did not in any way look like tampering. It was simply a review of the facts, Also, Whatsapp automatically encrypts texts. The idea these texts were hidden via a standard encryption on the application is utter nonsense. Whatsapp works over the Internet not over the tepehone network. That is why it is used for international texts. No charge, .... free.

  • HawkeyeDJ

    To believe that all these people were acting independently without the knowledge or blessings of the Trump campaign or Trump himself is incomprehensible.

    This idea that the boss was completely in the dark was tried during the Iran-Contra conspiracy. The underlings, many of whom were later convicted, actually discussed how to establish "plausible deniability" to keep the president from being named a co-conspirator. This all came out during public congressional hearings as people tried their best to avoid taking the fall. Now we have a DOJ investigation wherein the investigators do not have to publicly release what information they have until they are ready. I suspect that there is going to come a day when numerous individual indictments are going to come forward simultaneously. Then you are going to see rats abandoning the Trump ship in droves to save their own skins.

    Remember this: Bill Clinton was impeached, not because of any underlying crime, but rather because he chose to lie under oath to cover up a personal illicit (not illegal) relationship. The only reason he was not removed from office is because the GOP lacked sufficient numbers in the Senate to make that happen. If the president lies under oath, he should be impeached, even if there is no underlying crime on his part. Unfortunately, if the Congress is still controlled by the GOP, Trump could literally shoot someone on 5th Avenue and he would not be impeached.

    Nevertheless, there will come a day when Trump will no longer be president, and barring a preemptive blanket pardon, he will still be subject to prosecution for any crimes the DOJ has sufficient evidence and for which the statute of limitations has not run out.

  • End of Life Ritual

    Manafort's in serious trouble. Flynn too (although he's cooperating).

    Best guess: Mueller concludes his investigation with Manafort facing criminal charges, Flynn receiving a moderate sentence, and Mueller releases a scathing "Comey-esque" report on Trump himself, and his family.

    Maybe the House introduces articles of impeachment, resulting in an impeached President who serves until 2020, ala Bill Clinton.

    That's it though. Anyone who thinks there will be 67 Senators voting for conviction is living in la la land.

  • flatrock

    Seems like a bit of a stretch to call this witness tampering, and an even bigger stretch to call it obstruction. It is illegal to try to influence a witness to give false testimony. But saying that his intent was to only lobby European governments and that is how he remembers it and wanting to discuss their memory of the events doesn't sound like an unreasonable step in preparing a defense.
    It will be interesting to hear what the judge has to say on the topic.