-- Paul Manafort was working with a Russian intelligence-connected individual as recently as last week, special prosecutors allege.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is rejecting Paul Manafort’s request to modify his terms of his confinement, because, in an explosive allegation, it says “as late as November 30, 2017, Manafort and a colleague were ghostwriting an editorial in English regarding his political work for Ukraine.”
In a court filing, Mueller’s team says that “Manafort worked on the draft with a long-time Russian colleague of Manafort’s, who is currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.”
Former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his longtime associate Rick Gates, were indicted in October on 12 counts including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money and serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal. The indictments related to work done before joining the Trump campaign.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson has placed a gag order on this trial and admonished all parties not to “try the case on the courthouse steps” adding, “This is a criminal trial, not a public relations campaign.”
The government says, “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. 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). It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts.”
Mueller’s team, on the evening of November 30, alerted Manafort’s attorneys about this effort and “were assured that steps would be taken to make sure it was no longer going to be published.”
Prosecutors say Manafort‘s actions, in ghostwriting the editorial, “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.”
In opposing Manafort’s motion, the Mueller team states, “Because bail is substantially about trust…and because the newly discovered facts cast doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with this Court’s Orders, Manafort’s proposed bail package does not provide the reasonable assurance required by the Bail Reform Act.”
“In the event the Court disagrees, the government respectfully requests a fully secured bond and full-time GPS monitoring,” the motion states.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that prosecutors allege Manafort worked with a Russian intel-connected individual, not a Russian intel official.