17:55 GMT29 November 2020
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    Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager to US President Donald Trump, has filed a motion to end his house arrest. But the Department of Justice (DOJ) has called for the court to throw out the motion because Manafort allegedly violated the terms of his bail by penning an op-ed with a co-writer connected to Russian intelligence.

    The Special Counsel investigating the alleged ties between Trump and Russian actors, led by former FBI director Robert Mueller, has argued that Manafort should not be granted bail from the house arrest he's been living under since October, as he has been ghostwriting an editorial defending his work in Ukraine as a lobbyist on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

    Furthermore, the co-writer of the alleged editorial is described in the DOJ court filing as a "long-time Russian colleague of Manafort's, who is currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service."

    The document does not provide details about this co-writer, but even if Manafort had authored it on its own he would still be violating his bail. As the filing reads, Manafort was specifically told by the judge that he should not "try the case in the press." The judge also ordered all parties involved in the case to "refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case."

    Obviously, an op-ed would violate the court's edict, even if it were totally free of bias — and the Special Counsel argues that the editorial was significantly biased. "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)."

    Manafort has been under FBI investigation since 2014, long before he joined the Trump campaign. When the Special Counsel was formed in May 2017, Manafort became a nexus for the investigation, with the FBI raiding his Alexandria home in the middle of the night in July.

    Manafort was indicted in October and charged with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failing to properly file his foreign-made finances, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and making false statements. All the charges related to alleged money laundering undertaken by Manafort in his time as a lobbyist. None of the charges connect to Trump or the Trump campaign.

    Both Moscow and the Trump administration have denied any and all allegations to collusion.


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