Washington: In an attempt to burnish his public image and leave no fingerprints behind, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort recently enlisted a longtime Russian colleague to help him ghostwrite an op-ed, prosecutors have said.
The attempt to publish the op-ed under someone else’s name now has prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller pushing for Manafort to remain on house arrest and GPS monitoring for the time being.
An op-ed is an opinion essay written to be published in some form, usually on a website or in a newspaper or magazine. It is usually marked as representing the views of the writer and separated from news content.
Prosecutors say Manafort and the colleague sought to publish the op-ed to influence public opinion about his political consulting in Ukraine, work at the heart of the criminal case against him.
The op-ed was being drafted as late as last week, prosecutors say. They did not name the colleague but noted the person is based in Russia.
Manafort is currently facing several felony charges involving allegations of money laundering and other financial crimes related to his political consulting work in Ukraine. Manafort has denied any wrongdoing. A trial is scheduled for next year.
In the court filing, prosecutors say the op-ed appeared to violate an admonishment from the judge last month to refrain from public statements.
“Even if the ghostwritten 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,” the prosecutors wrote.
“The editorial clearly was undertaken to influence public’s opinion of defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to seek its publication (much less for Manafort and his long-time associate to ghostwrite it in another’s name).”...