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

Paul Manafort

A prosecutor working on Mueller's team argued that the request should be denied because the op-ed, if it had been published, would've violated a court order not to discuss the case publicly, Reuters reported Monday, citing court filings.

The special counsel investigating potential Trump campaign connections to Russia withdrew its support for a deal that would have eased former campaign manager Paul Manafort's bail conditions after the lobbyist was discovered ghostwriting an op-ed with a colleague tied to Russian intelligence.

But the revelation complicates Manafort's bid to have the judge lift the house arrest that he's been under since his first court appearance on October 30.

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

In a new filing Monday afternoon, Mueller's investigators said Manafort was working on an editorial in English as late as last Thursday and that it related to his political work for Ukraine, which factored into his money-laundering and foreign lobbying criminal charges. The bail agreement the lawyers appeared to have reached would have freed him from house arrest and Global Positioning System monitoring while asking him to post more than $11 million in real estate as collateral.

Manafort has proposed an $11.65 million bail package in exchange for lifting him from house arrest and electronic monitoring. "Manafort worked on the draft with a long-time Russian colleague of Manafort's, who is now based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service". Manafort/Gates allegations have nothing to with those alleged ties, however. The government did not name the Russian colleague, and has asked the judge to allow prosecutors to file evidence supporting the accusations under seal.

"Even if the ghost-written op-ed were entirely accurate, fair and balanced, it would be a violation of this court's November 8 order if it had been published", wrote prosecutor Andrew Weissmann. Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Manafort turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the charges, which include conspiracy against the US and using the laundered money to buy goods in the country - charges that relate to his work on behalf of a Russian-backed political party in Ukraine.

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