All Paul Manafort wants for Christmas? Freedom from house arrest and a Hamptons trip
All Paul Manafort wants for Christmas is to be free from house arrest. And to go to the Hamptons.
As part of special counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging probe into Russia's interference in the presidential election, President Trump's former campaign chairman and his associate Rick Gates were indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy, money laundering and acting as unregistered foreign agents.
Both men pleaded not guilty – and they still want to celebrate the holiday season.
Manafort is petitioning a judge to free him from home confinement in Virginia for a a trip to the Hamptons, where he also owns a house and where his in-laws live. Gates is asking for permission to go to "holiday events" close to his home in Richmond, Va., along with a family trip to West Virginia.
As part of their requests, Manafort and Gates both agreed to continue with GPS monitoring, which according to U.S. Probation and Pre-Trial Services consists of wearing a wrist or ankle monitor.
Manafort and Gates were placed under house arrest because they were considered flight risks, but U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson said she was "inclined" to eventually let them out of their confinement. And Jackson also said she was open to allowing them to travel within the United States (though international travel was out of the question).
Washington, D.C.-based attorney Richard Gilbert said requests for reprieves do happen when the defendants weren't charged with crimes of violence or terrorism. People may want to travel for business, vacations or family matters, and judges may approve such reprieves if they determine that these are low-risk requests. It helps, Gilbert said, if the prosecutor also deems the requests acceptable.
Mueller's team, investigating Russia's possible collusion with Trump associates, has objected to some of these requests, but not others.
Still, both Manafort were granted a reprieve to leave their homes for Thanksgiving.
Now, Manafort wants to travel to his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y., with regular trips to his in-laws' place in East Hampton, N.Y., for an extended Christmas weekend from Friday to Tuesday.
And for good reason, his lawyers argued: Spending Christmas at the Manafort home in Virginia would be a hassle for their extended family.
"Attempting to arrange for the gathering at the defendant's Virginia condominium, for example, where he is currently under home detention, would splinter the family's regular religious celebration by precluding attendance by close family members and by not providing adequate accommodations for the other guests traveling significant distances to be with their family," their motion reads.
Judge Jackson appeared to find the request a bit irksome. Just last week, she issued another order under which Manafort could be granted release from house arrest in Virginia and allowed to go to his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., while awaiting trial. In this agreement, Manafort agreed to forfeit $10 million in real estate and cash if he failed to appear for future court hearings.
The Christmas request, she noted, requires an "entirely different arrangement."
Still, Jackson said his request will be granted if Manafort provides a detailed itinerary that includes every trip he will make to his in-laws' and to Christmas Eve services. He will have to remain in his Bridgehampton home at all other times.
Gates had his own requests for the holidays. He wants an allowance to travel on five separate days to celebrate Christmas events within walking or a short driving distance of his home in Richmond, as well as a New Year's getaway to West Virginia from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1.
The West Virginia trip is an annual tradition that the Gates family has enjoyed for several years.
Jackson only granted part of Gates's travel request, noting that they "impose not only on the Court and its staff but also Pretrial Services, and given the fact that defendant has yet to be released from home confinement."
The court order did not disclose which events Gates would be allowed to attend.
But at least he got to leave the house for his child's Christmas concert on Wednesday, per another court filing.
Contributing: Brad Heath