Judge Declines to Remove Former Trump Aides From House Arrest

A federal judge said Monday that she was inclined to remove from house arrest two former aides to President Donald Trump’s campaign now facing criminal charges but would not do so until receiving more detailed financial information from them.

Lawyers for Paul Manafort, who led Trump’s campaign for several months last year, and his business associate Rick Gates said in court that they were still working with prosecutors on a financial package that would guarantee their appearance at future court dates while allowing them to be released from home confinement.

But the lawyers said they had not made final arrangements yet, and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson declined to take them off home detention until additional details about their personal wealth are disclosed, along with a more specific commitment to forfeit millions of dollars in assets if they fail to show up for future court dates.

That means the men remain at least for now on home confinement, a condition imposed last week following their indictment.

Jackson did indicate that she was leaning in favor of easing that condition once more information is submitted, but she also said she was likely to impose certain restrictions, such as a bar on international travel or on being in the vicinity of airports and other transportation facilities.

Manafort and Gates surrendered last week to the FBI to face criminal charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors, who are investigating potential coordination between Trump campaign aides and Russia.

The men are accused of laundering the profits of foreign consulting work performed on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and concealing those assets from the U.S. government. They have pleaded not guilty and were placed on home confinement with GPS monitoring.

The men entered the courtroom separately with their lawyers and did not speak during Monday’s bond hearing, though Gates at one point quietly conferred with his lawyer after a judge asked about his consulting practice.

At their first court appearance last week, a federal magistrate released Manafort on $10 million bond and Gates on $5 million bond. Those amounts reflect money the men would have to forfeit if they failed to return to court as required.

In court papers, Manafort pledged $12.5 million in real estate assets in New York and Florida and life insurance policies. He promised to limit his travel to Washington, D.C., Florida, New York and Virginia and to not apply for any travel documents.

Prosecutors have described Manafort and Gates as potential flight risks given the seriousness of the charges against them, their personal wealth and the possibility of yearslong prison sentences. They said in court documents over the weekend that they had yet to substantiate Manafort’s net worth, which he has placed at $28 million, and questioned whether a Fifth Avenue property that Manafort has valued at $3 million — and had pledged to secure his bond — is actually worth that much.

Though prosecutors have said Manafort had three passports with different numbers, his lawyers objected to efforts to portray him as a “‘Jason Bourne’ character.” They said that of the three passports, he used one to submit with visa applications to certain foreign countries, and the third he applied for and obtained after he had lost his primary one.


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Source: Associated Press