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U.S. Judge Turns Down Manafort Request To Ease Home Confinement

A combo photo of Paul Manafort (right) and Rick Gates

A U.S. judge has turned down a request by Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, to release him from home confinement.

During a November 2 hearing in Washington, Judge Amy Berman Jackson kept in place the house arrest ordered for Manafort and his associate Rick Gates.

Both are charged with conspiring to defraud the United States in more than a decade of dealings with political forces in Ukraine.

The men had requested to be released from home confinement, denying they were flight risks and saying the large bond amounts were enough to ensure future court appearances.

Bond was preliminarily set at $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates after they surrendered to authorities on October 30. Both pleaded not guilty.

Manafort faces 12 to 15 years in prison if convicted, while Gates faces 10 to 12 years, although prosecutors said other charges could still be filed.

The judge warned the men’s lawyers not to speak about the case outside of court, saying it could interfere with the ability to conduct a fair trial.

The judge said the initial bond terms for both men would remain in place for now and set a November 6 hearing to consider possible changes.

She said she might also set a tentative date for a trial to begin, possibly in April.

The indictment against Manafort and Gates is the first to stem from Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by associates of Trump.

The indictment said the two men "generated tens of millions of dollars in income" from work they did for Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow-friendly politician who was president of Ukraine from 2010-14, the Ukrainian government, Yanukovych's Party of Regions, and the Opposition Bloc, a successor party formed after Yanukovych was driven from power by pro-European protests and fled to Russia.

It alleged that "in order to hide Ukraine payments" from U.S. authorities, Manafort and Gates "laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts" from about 2006 through 2016 at the earliest. It said that they also hid their work and revenue as agents of Ukrainian political parties.

In a court filing, Manafort, 68, dismissed the evidence against him, saying the case by Mueller was "embellished" and that his work as an "international political consultant" naturally involved global financial transactions.

Gates, 45, has also denied any wrongdoing.

The indictments were welcomed in Ukraine, where prosecutors said they intend to ask the U.S. Justice Department for permission to interview Manafort about his activities in the country, although he is not charged with a crime in Ukraine.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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