Prosecutors: Manafort wrote opinion article with a colleague in Russia



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WASHINGTON – While facing several felony charges, former Donald Trump campaign president Paul Manafort has been working on an opinion essay with a longtime colleague "Evaluated to have links" with a Russian intelligence service, according to court documents filed Monday by prosecutors working for special lawyer Robert Mueller.

In a court filing, prosecutors say that Manafort and the colleague tried to publish the opinion article under the name of another person and intended to influence the public opinion about their work in Ukraine. The opinion article was being drafted as late as last week, with Manafort currently under house arrest. Prosecutors did not name the colleague, but noted that the person is based in Russia.

Manafort is currently facing several felony charges related to allegations of money laundering and other financial crimes related to his political consulting work in Ukraine. He has been confined to his house while he works on a bond agreement with the government.

Manafort has denied any wrongdoing related to his work in Ukraine. A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment on the opinion article described by prosecutors.

In the court filing, prosecutors say the opinion article seemed to violate a judge's warning last month to refrain from public statements.

"Even if the opinion piece written by the ghost was completely accurate, fair and balanced, it would be a violation of the November 8th Order of this Court if it had been published," prosecutors wrote. "The editorial clearly was undertaken to influence the public opinion of the defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to request its publication (let alone for Manafort and his long-time badociate to write secretly on behalf of another person)

added: "It complicates the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispbadionate recitation of the facts."

Prosecutors said they discovered efforts to publish the opinion article last Thursday and alerted Manafort's attorney, who badured prosecutors that "they were taken to make sure it was not going to be published."

At that time, Manafort was working to secure his release from confinement in the home by publishing more than $ 10 million in bonds, and according to court documents, he had reached a tentative agreement with the government. But after discovering the opinion article, Mueller's team is now opposed to the bail agreement proposed by Manafort.

Prosecutors did not disclose the opinion article in court documents to prevent it from being made public. Nor did they reveal the name by which the opinion piece written by the ghost would have been published.

Manafort and his long-time business badociate, Rick Gates, were formally indicted in October by a grand jury in Washington. They were the first people to face charges filed by the special lawyer's office.

Manafort led the Trump campaign for several months, including during the Republican National Convention. Gates also worked in a leading role in the campaign.

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