Mueller Unveils Evidence On How Manafort Drafted Ukraine Op-Ed Despite Gag Order

Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday unveiled evidence against President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, to convince a judge that he violated a gag order by ghost-writing an article to bolster his public image, Reuters informs.

The evidence Mueller revealed in a filing is the first clear indication of the depth of his investigation and the nature of what his investigators have found. In the 41-page filing, prosecutors in Mueller’s office produced emails, drafts with tracked edits and records showing that a computer user named “paul manafort” created a version of the op-ed and made numerous changes on November 29 “between 8:41 p.m. and 9:11 p.m.”, and “last saved at 9:12 p.m.”, Reuters adds.

The prosecutors also produced records indicating that the op-ed, published on Thursday in the English-language Kyiv Post over Mueller’s objections, tracked talking points Manafort and his business associate Richard Gates wrote in August 2016. That was after Manafort was forced to resign from Trump’s campaign because of political work he had done for pro-Russian figures including former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Mueller also claimed in the filing that Manafort collaborated on the piece with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian to whom Mueller alluded in a filing earlier this week as having ties to Russian intelligence, Reuters notes.

In the filing, Mueller’s team argued that U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson should deny a request by Manafort to lift his house arrest, saying the op-ed violated her gag order and demonstrated that he cannot be trusted.

Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing on Thursday denied that his client had violated the gag order, saying an article published in a Ukrainian newspaper would not substantially prejudice the case in the United States. However, Downing acknowledged in a filing on Thursday that Manafort had helped edit the piece, but said it was his client’s First Amendment right to defend himself.

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