Rick Gates, the former Trump aide indicted with ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort for crimes including money laundering, told a judge his appearance in a fundraising video didn’t violate her order not to try his case in the press.
Manafort and Gates were among the first people charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The charges, unsealed in October, relate to political consulting work the men did for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government before their work on President Donald Trump’s campaign. They deny wrongdoing.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington demanded last week that Gates explain why his participation in the Dec. 19 event hosted by conservative radio host Jack Burkman didn’t violate her earlier order barring the defendants from making statements that could affect the case’s outcome. In the short video, Gates referred to “the cause” and the goal of ensuring that his supporters “hear our message and stand with us.”
“Mr. Gates was only referring to those throughout the United States who are willing to contribute to help defray the costs of a defense necessary to adequately defend himself,” his attorneys said Wednesday, adding that he had a free-speech right to his statement.
Peter Carr, Mueller’s spokesman, declined to comment. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 16.
This is the second potential violation of Jackson’s order. Prosecutors previously flagged an op-ed piece they said Manafort had ghost written for publication in a Kiev newspaper. The judge didn’t punish him for his involvement but said she was likely to view such conduct in the future as attempting to circumvent her directive.
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