Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was, as recently as last week, ghostwriting with a colleague, who has ties to Russian intelligence, an editorial about his past political work in Ukraine, federal prosecutors said.
The development sunk a deal Manafort had struck to be released from house arrest, to which he has been confined for five weeks.
In court documents released on Monday, prosecutors argued that Manafort should not be freed from house arrest because he had been working on the English-language editorial with a longtime colleague “who is currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service”.
Manafort was placed under house arrest with electronic surveillance in October, after he was charged with federal felonies including tax fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Manafort ran Trump’s presidential campaign for five months ending in August 2016, when his undeclared earnings in the former Soviet bloc came to light.
Manafort’s lawyers originally sought to modify the conditions of bail, offering multiple assets “to assure he will appear as required”. The offer included two New York and one Florida property valued at a combined m and life insurance policies valued at .5m.
But the government said that Manafort’s ghostwriting “casts doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with court orders”, which include a ban on “trying the case in the press”.
“As late as 30 November 2017, Manafort and a colleague were ghostwriting an editorial in English regarding his political work for Ukraine,” the government says in court documents.
“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 reasonably to assure his appearance as required.”
If the US district court for the District of Columbia sides with the government, Manafort could remain under house arrest until his trial sometime next year.
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