U.S. prosecutors say former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort may have violated a court gag order — an order not to speak or write about the case — by editing an opinion article that ran Thursday in an English-language newspaper in Ukraine.
The evidence was part of a vast trove collected by the legal team of U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, who is charged with investigating possible links between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Manafort and Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates have pleaded not guilty to a 12-count indictment as part of Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential collusion with Trump associates. They are charged with conspiring to launder money, conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as foreign agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.
The court papers were filed in accordance with a law that the government provide the legal team of a defendant with evidence collected for his prosecution, so they can form a defense.
Court documents say the evidence, turned over in four batches, the first on November 17 and the last on Friday, contains more than 400,000 items, including financial records, corporate records and email communications.
About 2,000 of those documents are identified by the government as particularly important. The investigators said they identified those items because so many documents were collected.
The evidence also includes defendants’ statements to law enforcement agents and imaged copies of 36 electronic devices, such as laptop computers, mobile phones and thumb drives, which store data.
The op-ed piece Manafort is said to have edited was published in the Kyiv Post and carried the byline of deputy chief editor Oleg Voloshin. The column praised Manafort’s work as a political consultant to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was elected to lead the country in 2010.
Voloshin has defended the column, saying Manafort was not involved with its creation.
Manafort and Gates are scheduled to appear in court Monday.