- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2017

Special counsel Robert Mueller has balked at a proposed bail package for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort after prosecutors discovered he had been in recent contact with a Russian colleague “said to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.”

Mr. Manafort and the Russian colleague had been in contact as recently as last week to work on “ghostwriting an editorial in English regarding his political work for Ukraine,” according to court documents filed by the special counsel on Monday in Mr. Manafort’s case.

Since his indictment, Mr. Manafort has been in negotiations with prosecutors over the conditions of his release. He is currently on house arrest, subject to GPS monitoring and had been in the process of arranging a multi-million dollar bail package in secure his release.

Special counsel prosecutors wrote that Mr. Manafort’s actions should be considered a violation of the judge’s prior gag order, which limited the degree to which attorneys could talk to the press or public about the case.

“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,” prosectors wrote in a motion opposing the previously proposed bail package. “The editorial clearly was undertaken to influence 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).”

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Mr. Manafort to respond to the motion and to show cause why he has not violated her previous order.

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Last week, Mr. Manafort appeared to have reached an agreement that would have ended his house arrest and GPS monitoring in exchange for pledging to forfeit $11 million worth of property if he violates release conditions.

Under the previously proposed agreement, which was initially reached in conjunction with Mr. Mueller’s legal team, Mr. Manafort would have no longer been subject to house arrest or GPS monitoring. He could travel to Florida, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C., but would need prior court approval to travel elsewhere inside the United States.

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

The Mueller team filing Monday does not indicate how the special counsel team learned about the proposed editorial or cite the publication where it was planned to run.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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