Special counsel questions Manafort bail deal after op-ed

The special counsel's office revisited Paul Manafort's $11.6 million bail deal after learning he worked with a Russian colleague to ghost-write an op-ed about his work in the Ukraine. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Dec. 5 (UPI) — Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s office revisited a bail deal with Paul Manafort on Monday after learning he and a Russian colleague were ghostwriting an editorial about his work in the Ukraine.

The special counsel’s office said Manafort, President Donald Trump‘s former campaign chairman, helped draft the editorial in recent days, working with a Russian who has ties to the country’s intelligence services. The prosecution said it violates a Nov. 8 court order “prohibiting such out-of-court statements in order to protect the fairness of the upcoming trial.”

“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 court filing said. “It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts.”

The special counsel argued Manafort’s bail deal shouldn’t be allowed to hold up in court due to the op-ed draft.

“Because bail is substantially about trust — in particular, whether the court can trust that a defendant will abide by the combination of conditions designed to assure his appearance as required, 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,” the prosecutors said.

Manafort is a subject of Mueller’s probe into whether member’s of President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to sway the 2016 election.

He resigned as Trump’s campaign chairman in August 2016 after The New York Times reported a Ukrainian government corruption probe found Manafort received nearly $13 million off the books from a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.

Manafort’s lawyers reached an $11.6 million bail ending his house arrest and permitting him to Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The court filing stated Manafort was involved in the editorial as recently as Thursday, but didn’t clarify plans for it to be published.


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