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FILE PHOTO - Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort leaves U.S. Federal Court, after being arraigned on twelve federal charges in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in Washington, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan/File Picture(reuters_tickers)
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Monday accused President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of working with a Russian colleague to draft an opinion piece about his political work for Ukraine.
In court filings, a prosecutor working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team said Manafort was working on the article as recently as Nov. 30.
Had it been published, prosecutors say it would have violated a Nov. 8 court order not to discuss the case publicly.
The Russian colleague who was working with Manafort allegedly to shape public opinion about his work for a Ukrainian political party has ties to Russian intelligence agencies, according to the filing.
Manafort ultimately never published the opinion piece, after prosecutors reached out to his attorneys to alert them, they said in the filing.
Due to Manafort's actions, prosecutors said the judge should reject his request to modify his bail conditions.
Manafort has proposed an $11.65 million bail package in exchange for lifting him from house arrest and electronic monitoring.
As part of that deal, he would forfeit four of his real estate properties if he violated his bail conditions.
"Even if the ghost-written op-ed were entirely accurate, fair and balanced, it would be a violation of this court's November 8 order if it had been published," wrote prosecutor Andrew Weissmann.
A spokesman for Manafort did not have any immediate comment.
Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates were both indicted in October in a 12-count indictment by a federal grand jury.
They face charges including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as foreign agents of Ukraine's former pro-Russian government.
Initially, Manafort's lawyers had said in their court filing that the special counsel's office was willing to accept the proposed terms of his release.
But prosecutors wrote that they can no longer trust Manafort, and cannot accept his proposed terms.
"Because Manafort has now taken actions that reflect an intention to violate or circumvent the court’s existing orders, at a time one would expect particularly scrupulous adherence, the government submits that the proposed bail package is insufficient," the filing said.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)