Judge warns Manafort about gag order violations, but doesn’t punish him for work on Ukrainian op-ed

Criminal Justice

Paul Manafort/Shutterstock.com.

A federal judge warned Paul Manafort on Monday that her gag order in the money laundering case not only applies to President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chair but to his lawyers as well.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson declined to punish Manafort for his work on an op-ed published by a Ukranian newspaper, report the Washington Post, the National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and TPM. But Jackson warned she was “inclined to view such conduct in the future to be an effort to circumvent and evade” the gag order.

Prosecutors had claimed Manafort ghostwrote the op-ed and it violated the gag order. Manafort’s lawyers said their client merely edited the article and there was no violation.

Prosecutors said Manafort worked on the article with a former colleague who had ties to Russian intelligence. Manafort’s indictment stemmed from the work of special counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team, which is investigating Russian influence.

Jackson also said she was still considering a prosecution motion to withdraw from a bail deal that would allow Manafort’s release from home detention and GPS monitoring.

Manafort and business associate Rick Gates are accused of generating millions of dollars in income from their work for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, and laundering the money. Yanukovych was supported by Russia, where he fled after his ouster in 2014.

A Politico commentary, meanwhile, raps Manafort for “decidedly unimpressive editing” of the piece that was designed to sanitize his image in the Ukraine. The first problem, according to the commentary, was the headline “European integration unknown soldier.”

Politico suggests a web-friendly headline, such as “I Know Paul Manafort. He’s No Russian Stooge.”

Updated at 11:17 a.m. to correct spelling error in headline.

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