Judge Issues Gag Order in Manafort, Gates Case

(CN) – The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates issued a gag order Wednesday, saying remarks made outside the courthouse “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.”

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s order restricts comments lawyers, defendants and witnesses in the case can make to the media and the general public.

Jackson said the order complied with local rules for the federal court in Washington for widely publicized or sensational criminal cases, and will apply to all parties involved in the case, including Manafort and his business associate Richard Gates, their attorneys and potential witnesses.
Jackson was angered early on in the case when one of Manafort’s lawyers dismissed the charges against his client as “ridiculous” while speaking to reporters outside the courthouse at the close of Manafort’s initial court appearance on Oct. 30.

Downplaying the seriousness of the charges, Downing had said: “President Donald Trump was correct. There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.”

During a bond hearing on Nov. 2, Jackson scolded Downing over the remarks.

“This is a criminal trial, it is not a public-relations campaign,” she said in court Thursday.

She later urged lawyers to make their arguments in court and “not on the courthouse steps.”

In her two-page order Wednesday, Jackson indicated that neither party submitted objections to the gag order by the Tuesday deadline she had set.

Manafort and Gates remain under house arrest on unsecured bonds of $10 million and $5 million respectively, which they will forfeit if they fail to return to court. Jackson declined to finalize their bail packages Monday until their assets can be pinned down.

Manafort, 68, and Gates, 45, pleaded not guilty to a 12 count indictment unsealed Oct. 30 for money laundering, conspiracy and failing to register as foreign agents.

The charges are the first disclosed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign officials coordinated with that effort.

 

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