It looks like he was writing an op-ed with someone connected to Russia’s intelligence service.
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s disgraced former campaign chair, was drafting an English-language op-ed on Ukraine with a Russian who has ties to the Kremlin’s intelligence service as late as last Thursday, more than four weeks after he was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on money laundering and other charges.
Mueller’s team learned about the development late last week and is now urging a federal judge to deny Manafort’s request to lift his house arrest, according to a newly released court document from the Office of the Special Counsel.
“As late as November 30, 2017, Manafort and a colleague were ghostwriting an editorial in English regarding his political work for Ukraine. Manafort worked on the draft with a long-time Russian colleague of Manafort’s, who is currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service,” the document reads.
Mueller’s team believed Manafort wanted to ghostwrite the op-ed to change public opinion about his work in Ukraine, according to the brief. It’s unclear where he planned to publish the piece and under what name he would publish.
This move could’ve led to a harsher punishment for Manafort. His lawyers had struck an $11 million bail agreement with Mueller on November 30 after Manafort was indicted on 12 charges in October that mostly focused on alleged money laundering, failure to disclose financial assets, and false statements regarding work for the government of Ukraine and a Ukrainian political party. The indictment alleged that Manafort had laundered more than $18 million since 2006.
The agreement was supposed to end Manafort’s house arrest, but now Mueller’s team opposes that move.
If found guilty, the two men face decades in prison and millions in fines.