Paul Manafort and a Russia-based colleague of his were caught a few days ago writing an op-ed detailing Manfort’s political work in Ukraine, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors.
Mueller’s office said that by writing the article Manafort violated the judge’s gagging order which limits comments to the media from everyone involved in the case. Prosecutors also said it was a breach of trust and added that due to that move, they will oppose the $11 million bail agreement which Manafort had previously reached with them.
“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,” the lead prosecutor on the Manafort case Andrew Weissmann wrote in a memo.
He added that the op-ed was aimed at influencing “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).”
Steps to prevent the article from being published will soon be taken, Mueller’s office said. Prosecutors also made a request to the court to submit details about Manafort’s Russian contact and the op-ed under seal, so that they are not published.
Last week, Mueller’s office asked for a delay in Manafort’s bail package in order to weigh in on it. Prosecutors said it now opposes the package.
“Because Manafort has now taken actions that reflect an intention to violate or circumvent the Court’s existing Orders, at a time one would expect particularly scrupulous adherence, the government submits that the proposed bail package is insufficient reasonably to assure his appearance as required,” Weissmann wrote.
The bail agreement would have freed Manafort from house arrest and GPS monitoring, in exchange for $11 million in real estate as collateral.