Prosecutors: Paul Manafort should stay on house arrest after cowriting op-ed with colleague in Russia

The long-time Russian colleague of Manafort is “currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service,” they said.

WASHINGTON – Russia special counsel Robert Mueller objected Monday to a tentative agreement that would free Paul Manafort from house arrest after discovering that the former Trump campaign chairman was “ghost-writing” an editorial hat cast a favorable light on his work – with a colleague allegedly tied to Russian intelligence. 

Prosecutors alleged in court documents that Manafort and the unidentified associate – as recently as last week – were engaged in the project regarding Manafort’s “political work for Ukraine,” which is at the heart of money laundering and conspiracy charges filed in late October against him and campaign aide Rick Gates. Manafort was one of the first people prosecuted as part of Mueller’s federal investigation of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. 

“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,” prosecutors asserted in a four-page filing. 

Prosecutors asserted that the project was a violation of a sweeping gag-order issued last month by U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson. 

“Even if the ghost-written op-ed were entirely accurate, fair and balanced, it would be violation of this court’s Nov. 8 order if it had been published,” prosecutors argued. “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.”

The disclosure comes less than a week after Manafort’s lawyers said they had reached an agreement with prosecutors that would allow him to break a period of house arrest imposed following his first appearance in federal court Oct. 30.

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As part of the tentative deal, Manafort had pledged $11.65 million in real estate, including homes in the Hamptons and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., that would be forfeited if conditions of release were violated.

“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 required,” prosecutors stated.

If Judge Jackson rules against the government and agrees to free Manafort from house arrests, prosecutors asked that he at least be subject to full-time GPS monitoring and the posting of additional assets. 

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