Mueller: Manafort Was Ghostwriting Op-Ed With Russian Colleague Last Week

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, departs Federal District Court, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP
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The agreement that Paul Manafort and Special Counsel Robert Mueller had seemed to have come to on releasing him from home arrest has fallen apart due to what prosecutors described in court filings Monday as an op-ed Manafort was “ghostwriting” with a Russia-based colleague “regarding his political work for Ukraine.”

The colleague has been “assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service,” prosecutors said, and the writing of the op-ed was in violation of a prohibition the judge had put on the case banning the parties from communicating through the media.

They were drafting the op-ed “as late as November 30, 2017,” the prosecutors claimed.

Last week, Manafort’s attorneys filed a bail package proposal that indicated that they and Mueller had hashed out a deal, a month after Manafort turned himself him, on the terms of his release.

In Monday’s filing, Mueller’s team acknowledged that they had come to that agreement —albeit with a few more conditions that Manafort’s attorneys had not mentioned in their brief — but later that day “learned facts that are pertinent to the bail determination before the Court.”

Prosecutors indicated to the court that they wanted to file the op-ed draft in question under seal.

“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,” they said. “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.”

Read the filing below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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