Criminal Justice

Manafort ghostwrote op-ed with colleague who had ties to Russian intelligence, special counsel says

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Paul Manafort/

Prosecutors with the special counsel’s office say Paul Manafort violated a gag order by ghostwriting a never-published op-ed with an associate believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

The prosecutors opposed a bail package for Manafort, arguing the newly discovered information casts doubt on his ability to comply with court orders in the money-laundering conspiracy case against him. The National Law Journal (sub. req.), the New York Times and the Washington Post covered the development.

The bail deal would have lifted conditions of home detention and GPS monitoring for Manafort, who once served as President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman.

The filing is the first official allegation that a former Trump official had contacts with Russian intelligence, according to the Post and the Times. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian influence in the election.

The ghostwritten editorial concerned Manafort’s political work for Ukraine, and was intended to influence public opinion regarding Manafort, prosecutors say. The indictment had alleged Manafort and his former business associate, Rick Gates, generated generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of work for a former Ukrainian president, and then laundered the money.

The new legal filing does not identify the Manafort associate with alleged ties to Russian intelligence. But the Times and the Post concluded he is likely Konstantin Kilimnik, who lived in Russia and worked for Manafort. Kilimnik once told associates he had a Russian intelligence background, but more recently he has denied any ties. Manafort has also said he never knowingly spoke to anyone in Russian intelligence.

“It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer,’” Manafot told the Times in a February story.

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