13:35 GMT +322 March 2019
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    Paul Manafort, former advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign, as he checks the teleprompters before Trump's speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. (File)

    US Judge Rejects Special Counsel's Protective Order in Manafort Case

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A judge in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Wednesday rejected the Special Counsel Office's request for a protective order in the case of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort because it throws a broad "cloak of secrecy," according to a court document.

    "The current proposed protect order throws an unnecessarily broad cloak of secrecy over document and information to be disclosed in discovery," the document wrote.

    The judge explained the protective order is not necessary for circumstances where a conspiracy began and ended several years ago, the document said. Manafort's case involved charges of engaging in conspiracies that began as long ago as 2005 and ended in 2014, the document added.

    READ MORE: ‘Traitor!’: WATCH Protester Hurling Russian Flag at Manafort

    On Monday, the Special Counsel issued a motion for a protective order on all material provided by the United States in preparation in the Manafort case, according to a separate court document.

    The judge said the motion was insufficiently specific in describing the information to be subject to the requested protective order.

    Earlier in the day, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump's former lawyer John Dowd discussed the possibility of pardoning ex-Trump advisers Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.

    Three people with knowledge of the discussions told the media that Dowd talked to lawyers for Flynn and Manafort last year about having Trump pardon them.

    READ MORE: Presiding Judge: Paul Manafort Faces ‘Very Real Possibility’ of Life in Prison

    When asked about the conversations, Dowd denied discussing pardons with the lawyers for Flynn or Manafort.

    Trump's current lawyer, Jay Sekulow, told the Times, "Never during the course of my representation of the president have I had any discussions of pardons of any individual involved in this inquiry."

    In December, Flynn pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials and agreed to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

    Manafort has not pleaded guilty to dozens of charges, including tax fraud and conspiracy, and said he would not be interested in a pardon, because he has done nothing wrong.

    Mueller is investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as accustations of collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign ahead of the vote.

    Russian officials have denied all allegations of interference, calling the accusations "absurd." Trump has also denied any collusion between himself and the Kremlin and has called Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt."


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