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Monday
Nov062017

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort likely to be freed from home confinement

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- The judge presiding over the federal case against President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s former business partner is "prepared" and "inclined" to let the defendants free of home confinement, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said today.

“We’re not talking about dangerousness here; we are only talking about flight [risk],” Berman Jackson said, indicating she doesn’t believe either defendant poses a danger to the public.

Berman Jackson will not make a final decision until both Manafort and co-defendant Rick Gates can adequately detail their personal assets and show that their multimillion-dollar bonds can be paid if they flee, the judge said during a morning hearing in the case.

Prosecutor Greg Andres, part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team looking into possible collusion last year between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives, said Manafort is worth "somewhere in the neighborhood of $28 million."

But his wife and daughter may need to offer up their own assets to secure Manafort's bond, Manafort attorney Kevin Downing said.

Gates' assets and net worth are less clear, but his family may also have to offer their own assets to secure the bond set. For now, "I don't have anything to go on yet," Berman Jackson said of Gates' assets.

After last week’s indictment against Manafort and Gates for alleged money laundering and other financial crimes involving their now-defunct international consulting business, Manafort was fitted with an ankle-bracelet for GPS monitoring and placed under home confinement while the judge set a $10 million unsecured bond. Gates faced the same restrictions with a $5 million unsecured bond.

Berman Jackson today described Manafort and Gates as potentially significant flight risks, noting the seriousness of the charges against them, their international connections and what she called Manafort's "considerable sophistication" in moving money through foreign accounts.

She said Manafort used foreign accounts “to evade reporting requirements,” a remark that prompted Manafort's wife, sitting in the gallery, to shake her head dismissively.

Despite her concerns, Berman Jackson said a series of less-restrictive conditions could still be enough to assure Manafort and Gates appear in court as the case against them moves forward.

In particular, she said she is “prepared to modify” their home confinement, while also banning them from international travel, limiting their domestic travel, imposing a nighttime curfew and continuing GPS monitoring.

She is expected to make a final decision in the coming days. She also today scheduled a hearing for Dec. 11, when she will likely decide on a new date for the trial against Manafort and Gates to begin.

Before today’s hearing even began, while Manafort’s and Gates' attorneys were quietly conferring with each other in a corner of the courtroom, Gates and Manafort were left alone at the defendants' table, facing each other head-on from across a table. Their whispering was not audible to reporters in the room, but they repeatedly made each other chuckle and smile.

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