- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2017

A federal judge admonished former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Monday for his role in crafting an editorial that ran recently in a Ukrainian newspaper, warning him that she would not tolerate attempts to influence the public perception of the case through the media.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson did not punish Mr. Manafort for the publication, but noted that the point of her prior ruling barring involved parties from making public statements about the case was to ensure that the case was “debated by the parties in the courtroom and not in the press.”

Prosecutors from Robert Mueller’s special counsel team flagged the op-ed as a concern last week while negotiating a bail package for Mr. Manafort, arguing that his “ghostwriting” of the document constitutes a violation of the court-imposed gag order and raises doubts about whether he will adhere to the bail conditions.

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“The biggest issue we have is one of trust,” said special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann in court on Monday.

Since Mr. Manafort’s Oct. 30 indictment on charges including conspiracy to commit money laundering and failure to file proper financial disclosures, he has been held on house arrest in Virginia and subject to GPS monitoring.

His attorney, Kevin Downing, appeared to downplay the significance of the charges on Monday, saying he regards the case as being about “failure to file some forms.”

Mr. Manafort was in the process of arranging a multimillion-dollar bail package to secure his release when the special counsel balked at the proposed arrangement after learning of his work on the op-ed. The editorial was published Thursday in the Kiev Post.

Judge Jackson is evaluating a bail package proposal that would allow Mr. Manafort to travel domestically. She did not issue a ruling from the bench Monday.

Under the initial proposal, he would be able to travel between Florida, New York, and Virginia where he owns property, as well as in the District of Columbia. He would need prior court approval to travel elsewhere in the United States.

Judge Jackson expressed concern over the wide latitude the proposal would give for Mr. Manafort’s travel along the east coast. She asked Mr. Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, whether his client had a preference for which residence he would reside at full time if he had to chose. Mr. Downing said his client would prefer his Florida home.

But Mr. Manafort needs to travel domestically for work, Mr. Downing said.
“He has to earn a living,” Mr. Downing said, adding that the restrictions imposed over the last month have made it difficult for his client to work.

In exchange for more freedom, Mr. Manafort has proposed to put up four properties worth a collective $11.65 million as bail. The properties include his Alexandria home, worth $2.7 million; a $4 million residence in Bridgehampton, New York; a $1.25 million home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; and a Manhattan condo worth $3.7 million.

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