Caitlin MacNeal contributed reporting.
WASHINGTON—The federal judge presiding over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against ex-Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort signaled her reluctance to release Manafort from home confinement without GPS monitoring or a more substantial bond arrangement.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said at a hearing in the D.C. federal courthouse Thursday that she was confused by the court documents filed by Manafort’s attorney earlier that day.
“[The government’s] position is contingent on your position,” Jackson told Manafort attorney Kevin Downing. “Your position has changed two times since you stood up.”
Earlier this week, Mueller’s office filed a memo raising concerns about the potential that Manafort and Rick Gates, his longtime business partner, would be a flight risk. Manafort’s lawyers filed a response that hinted they would like to see him released from home confinement, but Jackson said the request was not made clearly enough for her to consider Thursday.
She asked Downing to file a formal motion Thursday evening, and for the government to file its response Friday for her to review for a hearing she scheduled for Monday morning. In the meantime, Manafort would remain under house arrest.
Jackson suggested, however, that she did not think releasing Manafort from home confinement would be sufficient without GPS monitoring or a bond package beyond the $10 million unsecured appearance bond set earlier this week.
Gates’ newly retained private attorney, Shanlon Wu, had filed a formal motion for his release just before Thursday’s hearing, but Jackson said she had not had time to review it. She did give Gates permission to leave house arrest to attend one of his children’s sporting events this weekend, as long as he gives proper notice to the pretrial services monitoring his home confinement.
Gates and Manafort have been under house arrest since Monday, after turning themselves in for charges made in an indictment filed last week. They face charges of money laundering, tax evasion and failing to disclose lobbying activities for foreign entities. On Monday, the two former Trump aides pleaded not guilty.
At Thursday’s hearing Jackson indicated that she would have little patience for public grandstanding by the attorneys involved in the case.
Attorneys should do their talking in the courtroom and in their pleadings, she said, “and not on the courthouse steps.”
After Manafort and Gates’ initial appearance in front of a magistrate judge Monday, Downing told reporters that Mueller’s case against his client was “ridiculous” and based on “a very novel theory.” Thurday, perhaps due to Jackson’s warning, he left the courthouse without weighing in on the proceedings. Manafort and his attorneys walked through the first floor surrounded by a gaggle of reporters. As he had on his arrival, Manafort again ignored questions and stared straight ahead.
Gates exited the courthouse about ten minutes later. Asked to comment on the hearing, he smiled and declined.
It was also revealed by Greg Andres, the government’s attorney, during Thursay’s hearing that Gates had not turned in all of his passport and travel documents on Monday as originally thought. Wu, Gates’ attorney, clarified that he had a pending passport application and a passport card, and that they would be turning those into the federal government.
At next Monday’s 9:30 a.m. ET hearing the parties will be discussing a trial date, Jackson said, but it appears likely that it will be set for sometime in April.
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