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Paul Manafort, Special Counsel Mueller tussle over Ukrainian op-ed

Paul Manafort, Special Counsel Mueller tussle over Ukrainian op-ed
From Reuters - December 7, 2017

(Reuters) - President Donald Trumps former campaign manager Paul Manafort did not violate a court gag order when he helped edit an opinion piece about his political work in Ukraine, his defense lawyer Kevin Downing argued in a court filing on Thursday.

A federal grand jury indicted Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates in October as part of Special Counsel Robert Muellers investigation into accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The charges against Manafort include conspiracy to launder money and failing to register as a foreign agent working on behalf of former pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovychs government, who was ousted in 2014.

Thursdays filing came after prosecutors working for Mueller said earlier this week that they no longer could agree to more lenient bail terms for Manafort after discovering that he was working with a colleague tied to Russian intelligence agencies on an opinion piece that cast his work in a favorable light.

Muellers office argued that his efforts to work behind the scenes on the piece as recently as November 30 ran afoul of the judges November 8 order instructing all parties to refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that could prejudice the case.

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, declined to comment.Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for Mueller, also declined to comment.

Downing said in Thursdays filing that his client was involved only in editing the piece to ensure accuracy, and that it would not prejudice the case because it was ultimately published in a Ukrainian newspaper, not an American one.

The defense did not, and does not, understand that the court meant to impose a gag order precluding Mr. Manafort from addressing matters, which do not pose a substantial

likelihood of material prejudice to this case,' Downing wrote.

Earlier in the week, prosecutors said in a filing that they had reached out to Manaforts lawyers when they discovered the draft and had been assured that it would not be published.

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