Paul Manafort and Rick Gates must be growing anxious after spending the last week cooped up in their lavish, multimillion-dollar homes. And in the spirit of regaining his client’s liberty - at least until such time as court proceedings against them are ready to proceed - Paul Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, has filed a motion to modify Manafort’s terms of release that would, among other things, allow him to travel to Washington DC, Florida, New York State and Virginia, though he would still be forbidden from leaving the country.
The filing was released Saturday ahead of a pretrial hearing set for Monday, where US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson will rule on the request. Right now, Manafort and Gates must check in with law enforcement daily by phone, and are only allowed to leave for court appearances, to meet lawyers, for medical emergencies and for religious observance.
Prosecutors and officials from pre-trial services have said Manafort is a flight risk because of his extensive ties abroad, and have asked for special monitoring. Manafort has already surrendered all three of his passports, which his lawyer argues were all obtained legally and for legitimate business purposes.
In public remarks made following Manafort’s arraignment, his lawyer, Kevin Downing, maintained that Manafort worked for a pro-European Union campaign for the Ukrainians, where he sought to further the cause of democracy and to help the Ukrainians come closer to the US and to the EU. Those activities ended in 2014, he said, two years before Manafort joined the Trump campaign.
Downing added that he found it “ridiculous” that the Manafort’s use of offshore accounts amount to a scheme to conceal funds from the US government, while also furnishing an explanation for why Manafort has three US passports - all of which were obtained legally.
Along these travel-related lines, much has been made of Mr. Manafort’s possession of three different passports. (See Government Memorandum at 12, n.5). While some reports have painted this as though Mr. Manafort is akin to a 68-year-old “Jason Bourne” character, the facts are much more mundane. Mr. Manafort possessed a passport, the type of which is generally held by most U.S. citizens. He also possessed a second passport to submit with visa applications to certain foreign countries. (The process for obtaining a visa can sometimes be lengthy and U.S. citizens who travel abroad frequently are no doubt familiar with this circumstance.) The third U.S. passport was applied for and obtained by Mr. Manafort only after he lost his primary passport. Months later, Mr. Manafort found that passport and contacted his passport services agency to advise them, and the U.S. State Department, with respect to the same.
Downing pointed out several inconsistencies in the government’s case to help justify his client’s release that could be read as a primer for his defense strategy.
The parties disagree as to the weight of the evidence outlined against Mr. Manafort. Although the Indictment reads like a criminal tax case, there are no Title 26 (Internal Revenue Code) counts in the charging document.
While Manafort was initially released on an unsecured bail of $10 million, he has offered to pledge a mix of properties and life insurance policies to secure his release. His lawyer proposes that Manafort’s family members will sign sureties to help secure his release. Manafort will agree not to apply for any new travel documents such as passports or travel cards. The assets Manafort is offering to pledge have a combined value of $12.5 million.
- East 5th Avenue, New York, NY (approximate net asset value $3 million); Baxter Street, New York, NY (approximate net asset value $3.5 million).
- St. James Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, FL (approximate net asset value $1.5 million.
- A combination of life insurance policies held in trust and/or in his or his wife’s name (approximate net asset value $4.5 million).
Manafort will also refrain from traveling overseas, and report to the Pretrial Services Agency by telephone once per week.He also will agree not to take any loans against the properties being pledged toward his bond.
Read the whole indictment below: