In an explosive new filing yesterday afternoon, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team rejected Paul Manafort’s request to modify the terms of his house arrest. Mueller’s investigators allege “as late as November 30, 2017, Manafort and a colleague were ghostwriting an editorial in English regarding his political work for Ukraine.” The colleague: a Russian intel-connected individual.
Manafort’s work for Ukraine factored into the money-laundering and foreign lobbying criminal charges he presently faces. Federal authorities asked for the court to revisit a bail agreement Mueller’s office and Manafort’s lawyers made jointly last week. The court had not yet approved a change to his $10 million unsecured bail and house arrest at the time of this latest filing. Prosecutors also have requested the court grant the ability to submit details about Manafort’s Russian contact and the editorial under seal, so they would remain confidential.
Mueller’s team, on the evening of November 30, alerted Manafort’s attorneys about the op-ed, and “were assured that steps would be taken to make sure it was no longer going to be published.” Had it been published, prosecutors say the editorial would have violated a November 8 court order not to discuss the case publicly. (Last month, Judge Amy Berman Jackson placed a gag order on the trial which requires Manafort, his lawyers and the prosecutors to “refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.”)
— Spencer Hsu (@hsu_spencer) December 4, 2017
“Even if the ghostwritten 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,” prosecutors wrote. “The editorial clearly was undertaken to influence the public’s opinion of defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to seek its publication (much less for Manafort and his long-time associate to ghostwrite it in another’s name).”
Manafort’s actions, prosecutors state, “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 to reasonably to assure his appearance as required.”
The news quickly spread across social media. In a statement to CNN, Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) called Manafort’s behavior “deeply foolish,” adding: “Clearly he’s not listening to his lawyers, or he’s more afraid of the Russians than he is of federal prosecution in the United States.”
Sen. Chris Coons reacts to Paul Manafort news: “That is deeply foolish. Clearly he’s not listening to his lawyers, or he’s more afraid of the Russians than he is of federal prosecution in the United States” https://t.co/N8z4yP2PLh https://t.co/t9nCAApOQp
— CNN (@CNN) December 4, 2017
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