Judge Decides to Keep Manafort Transcripts Under Seal

Rick Gates departs Federal District Court Wednesday Feb. 14 2018 in Washington. Paul Manafort the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump and his business associate Rick Gates were in federal court on Wednesday for a routine status confe

If convicted, Manafort could face between 10 and 30 years in prison, according to the report.

Paul Manafort (R), former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives for an arraignment at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., March 8, 2018.

Manafort, 68, who is under house arrest, pleaded not guilty late last month to a slew of tax, bank fraud and conspiracy charges brought in Alexandria, Va.

"Given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison", Ellis said in the order. If Manafort were to choose to avoid trial and change his plea to guilty, like his co-defendant Rick Gates has already done, he could be forced by special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors to share details he knows about Trump campaign officials' contact with Russians and other foreign nationals.

Prosecutors attempted to unseal court transcripts from hearings held in January and February at the federal court in Washington, D.C. The hearings were open to the public, but during bench conferences with attorneys and other sidebars, a static block was used to obscure the conversation from others in the room.

The Virginia judge's order Tuesday specified he should not drink excessively or use drugs that aren't prescribed to him, and that he's effectively on a "24-hour-a-day lock-down".

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"In this regard, [Manafort] poses a substantial risk of flight and the above-mentioned conditions are the least restrictive conditions that will reasonably assume defendant's appearance at trial", Ellis added in the order, which indicates it was originally filed Friday.

Manafort, the well-known political operative with a long history of work in Republican circles, is also facing charges at U.S. District Court in Washington.

Manafort lives primarily in Alexandria, Virginia, but also has properties in Florida and NY.

Manafort is now wearing two Global Positioning System monitors - one from the federal court in Virginia and one from the federal court in DC.

Former Manafort associate Rick Gates pleaded guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller last month.

If he changes his plea to guilty to avoid trial, Manafort may have to speak with prosecutors in the Russian Federation probe. "For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise".

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