Federal judge issues gag order in case involving Manafort and Gates

Criminal Justice

Paul Manafort/Shutterstock.com.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has imposed a gag order restraining public comments by lawyers, parties and potential witnesses in the government’s conspiracy case against Paul Manafort and his business associate.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson barred comments “to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case,” report Politico, Law.com (sub. req.) and the Washington Post.

Jackson said in the Nov. 8 order (PDF) that she was acting to safeguard the defendants’ right to a fair trial and the ability to seat a jury that hasn’t been tainted by pretrial publicity.

Last week, Jackson had warned lawyers that “this is a criminal trial, and it’s not a public relations campaign.” She spoke after lawyer Kevin Downing told the media on the courthouse steps that the charges against Manafort were “ridiculous.”

Manafort, who is President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, is charged along with his former business associate, Rick Gates. They are accused of laundering money obtained for their work on behalf of the former Ukrainian government, and failing to register as agents for a foreign government.

Manafort and Gates have been released to home confinement. Jackson has indicated she may release the defendants after they reach an agreement to disclose assets and she approves a satisfactory bail package.

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