Judge demands Manafort explain ghostwritten op-ed (video)

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Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has until Thursday to explain the op-ed prosecutors say he had ghostwritten to change public opinion on the case against him. The article allegedly focused on Manafort’s work in Ukraine.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson made the ruling on Tuesday, one day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team pulled out of a bail agreement with Manafort’s lawyers. She demanded to know how it doesn’t violate her order last month that blocked involved parties from discussing the case in public, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Mueller’s lawyers have accused Manafort of writing the op-ed in his support, with the aid of a person tied to Russian intelligence agencies.

Manafort’s work in Eastern Europe was the basis for the charges brought against him and progé Rick Gates in October. Both men were accused of creating an elaborate money laundering scheme dating back more than a decade.

Manafort and Gates have denied any wrongdoing, and have asked for lighter bail restrictions. On Nov. 8, the judge barred all parties “from making statements to the media or in public settings” that could influence the public perception of the case.

Prosecutors charge that Manafort worked on the op-ed as recently as Nov. 30, while under house arrest, according to a court filing Monday.

The identity of the Russia-based associate wasn’t disclosed, but the person allegedly has ties to a Russian intelligence agency.

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