Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is awaiting trial after being charged by the Department of Justice with 12 counts that include money laundering and conspiracy against the United States. But now the former Trump operative is apparently in more hot water after Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigators found evidence that he continued to conspire with Russian agents even after being placed under house arrest.
According to The Hill, Mueller is requesting that a federal judge deny Manafort’s recent appeal to lift his house arrest, stating that the suspect ghostwrote an op-ed piece with a Russian intelligence operative during his house arrest, which would be a clear violation of a court order instructing Manafort not to discuss the case.
Prosecutors say Manafort and the colleague — who is “assessed to have ties” with Russian intelligence — intended to publish the piece under a different name in an attempt to influence public opinion about Manafort’s previous work in Ukraine.
“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,” the prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Manafort and the unidentified colleague, who prosecutors said is based in Russia, began drafting the op-ed as late as late week.
The op-ed is reportedly still unpublished. However, court filings by the DOJ argue that the former Trump campaign chairman sought to influence public opinion concerning his case illegally.
“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 read, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts.”
Manafort’s attornies requested the lifting of their client’s house arrest so he could travel freely between his other properties which span across three states. However, the Mueller’s new evidence might throw a wrench in Manafort’s holiday plans.
It seems incredible that Manafort, who’s already being accused of illegally working for Russia would have the audacity to try to collude (again “allegedly”) with the Russians while under house arrest. What’s just as troubling is what he was trying to accomplish. Manafort has a long history of using political propaganda to influence public opinion favorably toward Russia’s interests.
Meanwhile, Trump is unraveling at a troubling rate, as Mueller continues to turn up the heat against his former and current associates.
It seems only a matter of time now before the president is greeted one morning by dozens of men and women in snazzy black jackets with gold letters that spell “FBI” on the back.
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla / Staff Getty Images
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