Prosecutors: Manafort wrote op-ed with man linked to Russian intelligence

Paul Manafort Rick Gates

Manafort was previously accused of working on an op-ed in his favor, which was to be published under someone else's name.

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As Business Insider reports, Mueller is urging the judge presiding over Manafort's case to reverse his bail agreement because the latter allegedly violated the court order that barred him from trying to influence public opinion.

An attorney for Manafort did not immediately return a request for comment. He was working on the draft "with a long-time Russian colleague of Manafort's, who is now based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service", according to the special counsel's office.

"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", prosecutors said, adding that the proposed opinion piece was "not a dispassionate recitation of the facts".

"It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts", it concluded.

Mueller's office said it learned late last week about the draft Manafort op-ed, which was being ghostwritten in English as late as November 30 with a "long-time Russian colleague of Manafort's, who is now based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service".

Manafort turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the charges, which include conspiracy against the US and using the laundered money to buy goods in the country - charges that relate to his work on behalf of a Russian-backed political party in Ukraine.

According to a filing by Special Counsel Bob Mueller Monday, Manafort was in the process of writing an opinion-editorial "to influence public opinion".

Even without the new information about the op-ed, Mueller's office said it had planned to seek changes to the bail package because it does not provide a guarantee from someone who is a close family member.

According to the October indictment, reviewed by Fox News, between at least 2006 and 2015, Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, acted as unregistered agents of the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions, a Ukrainian political party whose leader Victor Yanukovych was president from 2010 to 2014, and the Opposition Bloc, a separate party. Gates also worked in a senior role on the campaign.

Mueller and his team are broadly investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including whether Trump campaign aides colluded with the Kremlin.

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