Manafort Broke Gag Order, Ghost Wrote Op-Ed With Kremlin Connected Colleague

Manafort Broke Gag Order, Ghost Wrote Op-Ed With Kremlin Connected Colleague

Special counsel Robert Mueller asked a federal judge to deny Paul Manafort's request to release him from house arrest, pointing to a draft of an op-ed the former Trump campaign manager ghostwrote with an associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to multiple reports. Special counsel Robert Mueller's team told the court that Manafort's lawyers said they would stop the piece from being published after the government alerted them to the situation on November 30. It was unclear what name the op-ed would use as the author, or what publication it was to appear in.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an order November 8 barring the parties and counsel in the case from making public statements that could affect Manafort's trial.

Furthermore, the co-writer of the alleged editorial is described in the DOJ court filing as a "long-time Russian colleague of Manafort's, who is now based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service".

Mueller said that as late as Thursday, the day of the defense motion, "Manafort and a colleague were ghostwriting an editorial in English regarding his political work for Ukraine".

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Manafort, now on house arrest with an ankle monitor, had reached a proposed bail deal with prosecutors that was awaiting court approval.

"Because Manafort has now taken actions that reflect an intention to violate or circumvent the Court's existing Orders, at a time one would expect particularly scrupulous adherence, the government submits that the proposed bail package is insufficient reasonably to assure his appearance as required", special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann wrote. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On Monday, the special counsel asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson either to reject the deal, keeping Manafort under home confinement pending further negotiations, or impose additional restrictions, including making the $10 million forfeitable for other breaches of the terms and requiring Manafort to remain under Global Positioning System monitoring.

"It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts", the prosecutors added.

Mueller's team asked that the bail package be made tougher in light of Manafort's actions, including a requirement that he put up more assets and be subject to fulltime Global Positioning System monitoring.

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