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Judge not ready to remove ex-Trump aides from house arrest

WASHINGTON — A federal judge said Monday that she is inclined to remove from house arrest two former aides to President Trump’s campaign now facing criminal charges but would not do so until receiving more detailed financial information from them.

Lawyers for Paul Manafort, who led Trump’s campaign for several months last year, and his business associate Rick Gates said in court that they were still working with prosecutors on a financial package that would guarantee their appearance at future court dates while allowing them to be released from home confinement.

But the lawyers said they had not made final arrangements yet, and US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson declined to take them off home detention until additional details about their personal wealth are disclosed, along with a more specific commitment to forfeit millions of dollars in assets if they fail to show up for future court dates.

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That means the men remain at least for now on home confinement, a condition imposed last week after their indictment.

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Jackson did indicate that she was leaning in favor of easing that condition once more information is submitted, but she also said she was likely to impose certain restrictions, such as a bar on international travel or on being in the vicinity of airports and other transportation facilities.

Manafort and Gates surrendered last week to the FBI to face criminal charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors, who are investigating potential coordination between Trump campaign aides and Russia.

The men are accused of laundering the profits of foreign consulting work performed on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and concealing those assets from the U.S. government. They have pleaded not guilty and were placed on home confinement with GPS monitoring.

The men entered the courtroom separately with their lawyers and did not speak during Monday’s bond hearing, though Gates at one point quietly conferred with his lawyer after a judge asked about his consulting practice.

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At their first court appearance last week, a federal magistrate released Manafort on $10 million bond and Gates on $5 million bond.

Those amounts reflect money the men would have to forfeit if they failed to return to court as required.

In court papers, Manafort pledged $12.5 million in real estate assets in New York and Florida and life insurance policies. He promised to limit his travel to Florida, New York, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, and to not apply for any travel documents.

Prosecutors have described Manafort and Gates as potential flight risks given the seriousness of the charges against them, their personal wealth and the possibility of yearslong prison sentences.

They said in court documents over the weekend that they had yet to substantiate Manafort’s net worth, which he has placed at $28 million, and questioned whether a Fifth Avenue property that Manafort has valued at $3 million — and had pledged to secure his bond — is actually worth that much.

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In a separate development, a Russian lawyer who met with Trump’s oldest son last year said in an interview that a law targeting Russia could be reexamined if his father won the election and asked her for written evidence that illegal proceeds went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said in a two-and-a-half-hour interview with Bloomberg News in Moscow that she would tell these and other things to the Senate Judiciary Committee on condition that her answers be made public, something it hasn’t agreed to.

She has received scores of questions from the committee, which is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Veselnitskaya said she is also ready, if asked, to testify to Mueller.

Her June 9, 2016 encounter with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Manafort in New York plays a key role in allegations that the campaign worked with Russia to defeat Clinton.