Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office filed court papers to the U.S. District Court of D.C. on Monday opposing the release of Paul Manafort on bail later this month due to “newly discovered facts [that] cast doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with this Court’s Orders.”
According to Mueller, Manafort ghostwrote an op-ed alongside a “long-time Russian colleague” who is “currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.” Manafort worked on the op-ed as late as Nov. 30—nearly a month after he was indicted by Mueller’s team. Mueller called for GPS monitoring and a “fully secured bond of unencumbered real estate.”
Mueller noted that even if the op-ed were truthful, it would be a violation of a Nov. 8 court order to “not try the case in the press.”
The editorial, Mueller wrote, “clearly was undertaken to influence the public’s opinion of defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to seek its publication.”
“It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts,” Mueller continued.
Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates and Manafort are facing a host of charges—including money laundering and failure to register as foreign agents. The two had been under home confinement with GPS monitoring since they were charged on Oct. 30.
Manafort struck an $11 million bail deal just last week. His wife, Kathleen Manafort, would guarantee another $10 million if the former Trump campaign chief fled the country.
Mueller called for GPS monitoring and a “fully secured bond of unencumbered real estate.”
From 2004 to 2010, Manafort worked as an adviser to pro-Putin Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after becoming a target in the Euromaidan protests. He returned to Ukraine in 2014 to close Yanukovych associate Serhiy Lyovochkin.
Two years later, Manafort—a longtime resident of Trump Tower—became Trump’s campaign manager. Despite backing by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Manafort was replaced after several months on the job by Steve Bannon.
A spokesperson for Manafort declined to comment for this story.
The New York Times reported that the person who Manafort wrote the op-ed with was Konstan Kilimnik, a longtime associate of the president’s former campaign boss. Kilimnik and Manafort worked together in Ukraine to boost the fortunes of pro-Putin candidates. The two men were also in touch when Manafort helmed Trump’s presidential bid, and—in emails subsequently obtained by congressional investigators—discussed Manafort’s efforts to please Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to Vladimir Putin and worth an estimated $5 billion.
The disclosures came after 48 hours of news about Trump’s messy entanglement with the Russia probe. On Sunday, the president tweeted that he fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, because he lied to the FBI. One of the president’s lawyers, John Dowd, took credit for ghostwriting the tweet. And the tweet generated jubilation among the president’s critics, scores of whom speculated it could be evidence if Mueller wants to charge the president with obstruction of justice.
One of the president’s lawyers told The Daily Beast that the president was not told that Flynn lied to the FBI—and, thus, put himself in criminal jeopardy—until Mueller’s charges against the retired three-star general came out last week.
“It’s important because the Department of Justice was not accusing [Flynn] of a crime, and in fact they didn’t go after his security clearance,” the lawyer said.
—with additional reporting by Betsy Woodruff