Manafort ghostwrote op-ed with colleague tied to Russian spies, prosecutors say

Manafort ghostwrote op-ed with colleague tied to Russian spies, prosecutors say

Cheryl Sanders
December 5, 2017

The Special Counsel investigating the alleged ties between Trump and Russian actors, led by former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller, has argued that Manafort should not be granted bail from the house arrest he's been living under since October, as he has been ghostwriting an editorial defending his work in Ukraine as a lobbyist on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Mueller and his team are broadly investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including whether Trump campaign aides colluded with the Kremlin. It was unclear what name the op-ed would use as the author, or what publication it was to appear in.

The special counsel's office said in a brief that the ghost-written draft op-ed would constitute a violation of the court's order banning all parties from making statements to the press.

Prosecutors did not name the colleague but noted the person is based in Russian Federation.

Manafort is now facing several felony charges involving allegations of money laundering and other financial crimes related to his political consulting work in Ukraine.

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"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", Mueller's attorneys wrote.

Manafort, 68, and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, 45, have both pleaded not guilty to charges filed October 30.

Court papers say Manafort and the colleague sought to publish the op-ed under someone else's name and intended it to influence public opinion about his work in Ukraine. The government noted that the largest of the assets in Manafort's proposed package, his Bridgehampton property, is already subject to forfeiture in his indictment. "It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts", Mueller's team wrote. But his team has asked the court to ixnay Manafort's motion to modify terms of his release or ask him to post more of his assets and be required to wear a Global Positioning System monitor.

Even if the editorial were "entirely accurate, fair, and balanced", it would still violate US District Judge Amy Berman's Jackson's gag order, because it was aimed at swaying public opinion, prosecutors argued.

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