Criminal Justice

Manafort's lawyers say an op-ed published in a Ukrainian newspaper didn't violate a gag order

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Paul Manafort/

Lawyers for Paul Manafort told a judge on Thursday that their client did not violate a gag order in the money-laundering case against him for his work on an op-ed that was published in a Ukrainian newspaper.

Prosecutors in the special counsel’s office had claimed Manafort ghostwrote the piece, but Manafort’s lawyers said he edited it to ensure accuracy. Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, was trying to correct the public record in Ukraine, the lawyers said in the legal memorandum filed on Thursday. The National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Huffington Post, Politico and the Washington Post have coverage.

Because the op-ed was aimed at a Ukrainian audience, it did not violate the gag order’s command that he refrain from making statements that “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case,” the lawyers argued. The legal memorandum was filed in response to an order to show cause by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington, D.C.

The lawyers also argued that the government’s broad interpretation of the gag order “would unconstitutionally violate Mr. Manafort’s rights to defend himself and his reputation, and to correct the public record.”

Prosecutors had cited the op-ed to argue against a bail package for Manafort, who is under house arrest. They said Manafort had ghostwritten the piece with an associate believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

An editor’s note with the article said the author wrote the op-ed himself, but he shared it with with Manafort and associate Konstantin Kilimnik for fact checking.

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