A federal judge warned President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Monday that he shouldn’t be trying his case in the press after he was caught editing an op-ed for a Ukrainian paper.
That includes drafting opinion essays published in other countries he was warned as he appeared in court.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Paul Manafort that his editing of an op-ed that appeared in an English-language newspaper in Ukraine is not something she is going to tolerate.
The judge’s warning came after special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors discovered that Manafort edited an op-ed published in the Kyiv Post last week.
The article appeared under the name of a former Ukraine official.
It discussed Manafort’s consulting work in Ukraine, which is at the heart of the case against him.
Here for the hearing: Paul Manafort got a break from house arrested when he was driven to federal court in Washington D.C. in a white Range Rover and accused of breaching his gag order
Also in court: Rick Gates, Manafort’s right-hand man and deputy on the Trump campaign appeared in front of Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the wake of the charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Jackson said she would take under advisement Manafort’s proposal to have his house arrest lifted in exchange for accepting four of his properties as collateral.
He returned to house arrest after the hearing.
Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller had revealed they knew every word Paul Manafort changed in an opinion piece about his involvement in Ukrainian politics.
They said they tracked the changes the former Trump campaign chairman made as he edited the piece while under house arrest.
Prosecutors say the op-ed was part of a public effort Manafort was trying to orchestrate that would have violated a judge’s order to refrain from trying his case in the press.
Manafort’s attorneys argue that he had only edited the piece after receiving it from a former Ukrainian public official whom he knew through his consulting work in Ukraine.
They also say Manafort didn’t violate the judge’s order and was exercising his free speech rights to defend himself.
Defense lawyer Kevin Downing said on Thursday’s filing that his client was involved only in editing the piece to ensure accuracy, and that it would not prejudice the case because it was ultimately published in a Ukrainian newspaper, not an American one.
‘The defense did not, and does not, understand that the court meant to impose a gag order precluding Mr. Manafort from addressing matters, which do not “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case”,” Downing wrote.
Earlier in the week, prosecutors said in a filing that they had reached out to Manafort’s lawyers when they discovered the draft and had been assured that it would not be published.
The piece appeared online in the English-language Kyiv Post on Thursday.
The article, which was authored by Oleg Voloshyn, a former spokesman for Ukraine´s foreign affairs ministry, praised Manafort’s political work in helping Ukraine secure better relations with the European Union.
‘I can only wonder why some American media dare falsely claim that Paul Manafort lobbied Russian interests in Ukraine,’ the piece said. ‘Without his input Ukraine would not have had the command focus on reforms that were required to be a nation candidate to the EU.’
Back to house arrest:Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort that she would deliberate on his offer of handing over four properties as collateral to end his house arrest
Brian Bonner, the chief editor at the Kyiv Post, told Reuters that the article was submitted on Monday.
Bonner said Voloshyn claimed to have written the article and then sent it to Manafort and the American’s longtime Russian colleague, Konstantin Kilimnik, for fact-checking before submission.
Bonner said he did not immediately publish the article because he was suspicious of the contents and wanted to confirm that Voloshyn had written it.
‘It was blatantly pro-Manafort with an opinion about his activities that most people don’t share and that his record in Ukraine doesn’t support,’ Bonner wrote in an email.
Voloshyn told Reuters he was not immediately in a position to comment.
It was not clear when U.S. District judge Amy Berman Jackson would decide whether or not the order was violated, but Manafort and Gates are due to appear before her on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a status hearing.