If you’re a guy who worked for a Putin-friendly political party and then was indicted for taking money under the table and laundering said money through off-shore banks and real estate transactions, and compounded this corruption by failing to register as an agent for a foreign government, and you’ve had a $60 million business relationship with one of Putin’s pet oligarchs, what do you do? If it were me, I’d make sure I have a good lawyer and heed his counsel, in particular not doing anything to put my bail deal at risk. But if you’re Paul Manafort, what you do is this:
In the four-page filing Monday, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann urged the judge to reject the bail deal, arguing that Manafort and a Russian colleague have been secretly ghostwriting an English-language editorial that appeared to defend Manafort’s work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.
They said Manafort worked on the draft as recently as last week with “a long-time Russian colleague . . . who is currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.” They indicated they would file further supporting evidence under seal.
The Russian colleague was not identified in court papers. However, Manafort has had a long-standing Russian employee named Konstantin Kilimnik who ran Manafort’s office in Kiev during the 10 years he did consulting work there.
Prosecutors said the editorial Manafort was writing violated a court order prohibiting the parties in the case from making public statements outside of court that could influence jurors.
The piece “clearly was undertaken to influence the public’s opinion of defendant Manafort,” prosecutors wrote, noting there would be no other reason for Manafort and the colleague to have it published under someone else’s name.
The allegation is the first time that prosecutors have claimed any former Trump campaign official has had contacts with a Russian tied to that country’s intelligence services.
I guess rules are for little people. And hey, his ghost co-writer wasn’t wearing a badge that said that he had ties to Putin’s intelligence network, so what’s the big deal, right? Anyway, Manafort just earned some time in jail for gross stupidity. And for a five-month period, this was the guy who advised a presidential candidate and ran his campaign. Good grief.