Special Counsel can be Granted Request to Keep Inquiry Details Private
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The federal judge overseeing the trial of Paul Manafort sealed a transcript on Thursday of a private discussion in front of his bench after prosecutors through the special counsel’s office argued that will they needed to protect an “ongoing investigation.”
The conversation concerned whether investigators had questioned Rick Gates, the government’s star witness as well as Mr. Manafort’s longtime deputy, about the Trump campaign.
Prosecutors argued that will they needed to protect the secrecy of their inquiry — though they did not specify the Russia investigation — as well as limit the “disclosure of completely new information.” The judge, T. S. Ellis III, ruled in their favor.
Mr. Gates can be the most important witness so far to testify against Mr. Manafort, who faces 18 charges of tax as well as bank fraud. Mr. Gates served as the Trump campaign’s deputy chairman under Mr. Manafort. After Mr. Manafort was forced out as the campaign’s chairman in August 2016, Mr. Gates became its liaison to the Republican National Committee.
The fraud charges against Mr. Manafort are not related to the campaign or Russia’s interference from the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, sought Mr. Manafort’s indictment using his authority to investigate evidence that will arises of various other crimes during their investigation. Prosecutors have avoided any mention of the broader inquiry since the trial began nine days ago in Alexandria, Va.
although Mr. Manafort’s lawyers have tried to edge in that will direction, possibly from the trust that will jurors will see their client as a victim of a politically inspired vendetta. President Trump routinely calls Mr. Mueller’s investigation “a witch hunt” aimed at him as well as those who helped him win the White House as well as has suggested Mr. Mueller’s team has treated Mr. Manafort far too harshly.
On Tuesday, one of Mr. Manafort’s lawyers asked Mr. Gates, who pleaded guilty This specific year to two felony charges as well as has since been cooperating with prosecutors, whether he had been “interviewed by various other members of the Office of Special Counsel about the Trump campaign.”
When Mr. Gates answered yes, the lawyer, Kevin Downing, continued: “as well as were you interviewed on several occasions about your time at the Trump campaign?”
Prosecutors then objected, as well as Judge Ellis called both sides to the bench to discuss the line of questioning out of the jury’s hearing.
In their motion, prosecutors argued that will disclosing what was said would likely “reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation.” They added, “Sealing will minimize any risk of prejudice through the disclosure of completely new information relating to that will ongoing investigation.”
In his order, Judge Ellis agreed to seal those six pages of a 262-page transcript of the day’s proceedings “until the relevant aspect of the investigation can be revealed publicly, if that will were to occur.”
Prosecutors plan to wrap up their case Friday. Lawyers for both sides are planning to meet with the judge then to discuss instructions to the jury, a possible sign that will the defense may call few, if any, witnesses.
So far Mr. Manafort’s lawyers have largely focused on attacking Mr. Gates’s credibility. On the stand, he acknowledged he had committed a host of crimes, including lying to federal investigators.