Manafort and Gates discussed 'press strategy' after he left Trump's campaign, emails reveal

Gates wrote Manafort needs to 'beat back the idea that this was nefarious work.'

ByJack V. Date
December 10, 2017, 12:40 PM

— -- Newly unsealed court documents reveal August 2016 emails between former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his former deputy Rick Gates in the days after Manafort left the Trump campaign, discussing a "press strategy" to defend himself after his departure.

The emails, attached to a prosecution filing opposing Manafort’s request to alter his bail conditions entered Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, include correspondence between Manafort and Gates from August 21, 2016, two days after Manafort resigned.

That e-mail outlines "3 main attacks" in the strategy: "1. Cash ledger 2. Fara (redacted) 3. Russia."

Manafort and Gates charged in October with, among other charges, making false or misleading statements on Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings and acting as unregistered agents of a foreign principal: Ukraine.

Another email, dated September 5, 2016 from Gates to Manafort, contains a strategy memo titled "Outline of Issues." The document includes a section about "PJM work in Ukraine" with the first points being "1. Never worked in Russia or for Russians," and "2. Work was centered on pro-Ukraine efforts to enter into the EU."

The memo also included a section about "PJM work in other countries," and the "need to beat back the idea that this was nefarious work." The memo referred to the work as being "on behalf of the US government" and "in support and promotion of pro-democratic values around the world."

Manafort, in an earlier filing, had requested that his restrictive house arrest conditions be relaxed.

The special counsel shot back in a filing last Monday that alleged Manafort defied the court's strict gag order "requiring all interested parties, in particular, counsel for both sides, to refrain from making further statements to the media or in public settings that are substantially likely to have a materially prejudicial effect on this case." Manafort, the government alleged, worked with a Russian associate to draft an Op-Ed that was published in the Kyiv Post in hopes of influencing public opinion.

After Manafort's attorneys replied on Thursday, the government responded late Friday, saying Manafort's conduct "raises serious concerns about his trustworthiness," that warrant denial of his request for a relaxed conditions of release.

The court also unsealed a declaration from FBI Special Agent Brock W. Domin, which contained a detailed accounting of Manafort’s revisions to the Op-Ed, which was published Thursday under the byline if Oleg Voloshin, the former spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Prosecutors had filed the declaration and its attachments under seal to prevent the draft Op-Ed from becoming public, but prosecutors suggested the declaration could be unsealed since the potentially prejudicial material had been made public.

The government asked that Manafort’s bail conditions remain unchanged saying in its opposition papers that Manafort’s conduct undermines trust in his adherence to bail conditions.

“Bail is fundamentally about trust — whether a defendant can be trusted to appear and to abide by the conditions put in place to assure his appearance,” prosecutors wrote in the Friday filing. “Manafort cannot bring himself to state that he had a role in drafting the op-ed, although that fact is established by irrefutable evidence.”

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