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Special counsel backs out of bail deal with Paul Manafort, saying he tried to hide a public relations effort

Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call None
Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

Paul Manafort ghost-wrote an editorial about his political work in Ukraine, violating a court order, according to a new court filing from the special counsel’s office.

The allegation was disclosed Monday as the reason the special counsel was backing out of a deal on bail with Manafort’s lawyers. The deal would have loosened the terms of house arrest for President Trump’s former campaign manager.

Manafort wanted to be allowed to travel among a few states in return for agreeing to forfeit $11.6 million in property if he missed a court appearance. 

The special counsel’s office, which is investigating whether anyone in Trump’s orbit helped Russia interfere in last year’s presidential campaign, said Manafort helped draft the editorial in recent days, working with a Russian who has ties to that country’s intelligence services.

That writing violated a Nov. 8 court order "prohibiting such out-of-court statements in order to protect the fairness of the upcoming trial,” the court filing said.

“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),” the court filing said. “It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts.”

The court filing said Manafort was involved in the editorial as late as Thursday. It did not say whether the editorial was published or identify the Russian that Manafort supposedly worked with.

A spokesman for Manafort did not immediately return a message requesting comment.

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