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Paul Manafort wrote op-ed with colleague in Russia, prosecutors say

Key Points
  • Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been working on an op-ed essay with a longtime colleague "assessed to have ties" to a Russian intelligence service, according to prosecutors.
  • Court papers say Manafort and the colleague sought to publish the op-ed under someone else's name and intended it to influence public opinion about his work in Ukraine.
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, arrives to the U.S. Courthouse for a bond hearing in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Special counsel Robert Mueller said Monday that Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was working on an op-ed essay with a longtime colleague "assessed to have ties" to a Russian intelligence service.

Court papers say Manafort and the colleague sought to publish the op-ed under someone else's name and intended it to influence public opinion about his work in Ukraine. The op-ed was being drafted as late as last week while Manafort was under house arrest. Prosecutors 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, whose attorneys did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC, has denied wrongdoing.

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Prosecutors argued that the op-ed, if it were published, would have violated a court order barring statements in public settings that could influence the trial.

The revelation has made it more likely that Manafort will not be able to reach a bail agreement with the special counsel's office any time soon. Last week, attorneys on both sides agreed to a bail package that would have released the former Trump official from house arrest.

The special counsel wrote Monday that the ghostwriting effort "cast doubt on Manafort's willingness to comply" with court orders. Investigators argued that Manafort should be required to remain under full-time GPS monitoring, among a slew of other bail conditions, in any new deal.

Prosecutors said that they notified Manafort's defense attorneys about the editorial Nov. 30 "and were assured that steps would be taken to make sure it was no longer going to be published."

The text of the drafted op-ed was not available, and prosecutors said they would file it under seal.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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