The special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election on Monday accused President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of working with a Russian colleague to draft an opinion piece about his political work for Ukraine.
Prosecutors say Manafort and the colleague - who is "assessed to have ties" with Russian intelligence - meant to publish the piece under a different name in an attempt to influence public opinion about Manafort's previous work in Ukraine.
Manafort's attorney said Thursday that this collaboration was merely Manafort trying to "ensure" the "accuracy" of the op-ed. They said Manafort had ghostwritten the piece with an associate believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.
"All he has tried to do is to correct the public record in Ukraine concerning his consulting activities in Ukraine", Manafort's lawyers said in a court filing. The piece was intended for the Kyiv Post, an English-language newspaper in Ukraine, according to the filing.
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The article praised Manafort's work helping Ukraine secure better relations with the European Union and said he lobbied for pro-Western values, not Russian interests.
Manafort and Gates are scheduled to appear in court on Monday for a status conference hearing, where the judge is likely to address the dispute.
In court filings, a prosecutor working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team said Manafort was working on the article as recently as November 30.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has produced hundreds of thousands of documents, copied 36 electronic devices and 2,000 "hot" documents in the government's case against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
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.