Trump's ex-campaign chief Manafort placed under house arrest

IANS
Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Judge Deborah A. Robinson also ordered Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates to surrender their passports, after they appeared at a court here on Monday, Efe news reported.

WASHINGTON: Paul Manafort, who served as US President Donald Trump's campaign chairman, will be confined to home pending trial on charges brought by the special counsel investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Judge Deborah A. Robinson also ordered Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates to surrender their passports, after they appeared at a court here on Monday, Efe news reported.

Both men are barred from leaving their homes for any reason other than court appearances, meetings with attorneys, medical appointments or religious activities.

The judge set a bond of $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates, but neither man will have to pay or post collateral unless he violates the conditions of the house arrest.

Facing a dozen charges that include money laundering and conspiracy, both entered pleas of not guilty.

Manafort and Gates are due back in court on Thursday.

Trump weighed in Monday morning on the case against his former campaign chairman, noting that the alleged crimes occurred long before Manafort worked for him.

"Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????" Trump said in a Twitter post. "...Also, there is NO COLLUSION!"

Last Friday, media reports said that a grand jury in Washington had issued indictments in the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

There was speculation over the weekend over who might be charged by Mueller, who was appointed to his post in May.

Investigators had been targeting Manafort, who worked as a lobbyist, for months and the FBI searched his house in July.

Manafort once worked for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska - who says the American owes him $18 million - and was involved in questionable business deals with pro-Russian elements in Ukraine.

Mueller's office also revealed in documents unsealed Monday that George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian professor linked to the Kremlin.

Over the weekend, Trump once again called Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt" and demanded that "something" be done about alleged irregularities that his former Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, committed during the 2016 election.

"Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?)" Trump tweeted.

On Monday, the President renewed the attack.

"Report out that Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC (Democratic National Committee). Nobody knows who OK'd!" Trump tweeted.

The so-called "Trump dossier," prepared by a former British spy who runs a firm called Fusion GPS, details alleged contacts between Trump's team and the Kremlin, Russian spying on Trump and the possibility that that information could be used to blackmail him during his presidency.

The dossier cites unnamed sources who say that members of Trump's team met with representatives of the Russian government.

Those sources also say that they have proof that Trump met with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel where Russian intelligence operatives had allegedly installed cameras and microphones.

Trump has categorically denied the dossier's content.

Media reports said last week that an unidentified Republican who opposed Trump's bid for the party's nomination initially provided the funding for the dossier, but that the Clinton campaign and the DNC later paid Fusion GPS for damaging information on the now-president.

Congressional investigators are trying to determine the role that Fusion GPS played in the campaign and who paid the firm.

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