Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Mueller just abruptly reversed course on his bail agreement with Manafort

Mueller just abruptly reversed course on his bail agreement with Manafort

Federal prosecutors asserted Monday that a longtime associate of Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Trump's campaign, has been "assessed to have ties" to Russian intelligence - the first time the special counsel has alleged a Trump official had such contacts.

In a court filing, prosecutors say Manafort and the colleague sought to publish the op-ed to influence public opinion about his political consulting in Ukraine, work at the heart of the criminal case against him.

The special counsel's brief said by drafting this op-ed, it showed Manafort was ready to "violate or circumvent" the court's order banning statements to the press. Manafort is now under house arrest and faces charges including fraud and money laundering.

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Manafort, 68, and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, 45, have both pleaded not guilty to charges filed October 30. The government asked the court in its latest filing that Manafort be required "to report to Pretrial Services where he will be located during the upcoming week, including details of any planned travel and where he will be staying". The documents suggest that Manafort's goal was to combat allegations that his work on behalf of politicians in Ukraine had been improper.

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

They said Manafort worked on the draft as recently as last week with "a long-time Russian colleague. who is now based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service". Manafort has denied any wrongdoing.

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"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", Mueller's team wrote in their filing on Monday. They added that the piece was being drafted as late as last week, with Manafort now under house arrest. Prosecutors had agreed to support a proposed bail package Manafort submitted to the court last week - he proposed putting up four properties with a net value of $11.65 million - but on Monday the government said that given the editorial situation, they were no longer convinced that the proposed bail package would be enough.

Manafort relinquished his passport and was placed under house arrest; his bail was set at $10 million. Manafort's eight-bedroom house in Bridgehampton, New York, which Manafort had proposed pledging as part of his bail package, is already covered under the government's forfeiture action and prosecutors are asking for other assets.

Manafort led the Trump campaign for several months, including during the Republican National Convention. Deripaska claims Manafort never returned the money and maintains he had no part in Russia's attempts to sway to 2016 USA election.

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