Special Counsel Tells Court Manafort Ghostwrote Op-Ed With Russian Colleague

Special Counsel Tells Court Manafort Ghostwrote Op-Ed With Russian Colleague

The special counsel's office said in a brief that the ghost-written draft op-ed would constitute a violation of the court's order banning all parties from making statements to the press. 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.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort - under house arrest since late October - was trying to ghostwrite an editorial in recent weeks about his political work in Ukraine, working with a "Russian colleague" with ties to a Russian intelligence service, special counsel prosecutors claimed in a court filing on Monday.

Prosecutors did not disclose the op-ed in court papers so as to prevent it from becoming public.

On Thursday, Manafort's team filed a motion to modify the conditions of his release, saying their client and the Office of the Special Counsel reached an agreement under which Manafort would be released from home confinement and Global Positioning System monitoring.

Penning the "ghostwritten" piece appeared to violate a judge's November admonishment to refrain from speaking publicly, prosecutors said.

That colleague was likely Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian-Ukrainian citizen and longtime protege of Manafort who he had used as a liaison to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska during the campaign.

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Manafort, who led Trump's campaign during the Republican National Convention past year, and the colleague aimed to publish the op-ed under someone else's name and intended it to influence public opinion about his work in Ukraine, prosecutors said.

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

The filing continued: "Because Manafort has now taken actions that reflect an intention to violate or circumvent the court's existing orders. the government submits that the proposed bail package is insufficiently reasonable to assure his appearance as required".

Manafort wanted to be allowed to travel among a few states in return for agreeing to forfeit $11.6 million in property if he missed a court appearance.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a motion today opposing the deal, saying circumstances have changed since the government consented to the arrangement. It does not provide for Global Positioning System monitoring. The documents suggest that Manafort's goal was to combat allegations that his work on behalf of politicians in Ukraine had been improper.

Manafort ultimately never published the opinion piece, after prosecutors reached out to his attorneys to alert them, they said in the filing. All the charges related to alleged money laundering undertaken by Manafort in his time as a lobbyist.

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