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A federal judge said Monday that Paul Manafort’s participation in the drafting of an op-ed was exactly the sort of media engagement she had banned in a gag order issued in his case, but indicated she was giving him a pass this time.

“Mr. Manafort, that order applies to you, not just your attorney,” U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, while deciding to vacate her request that his attorneys prove he didn’t violate the gag order.

Earlier this month, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team indicated they were withdrawing from a bail deal with Manafort due to their discovery of an op-ed, intended to run in a Ukrainian outlet, that Manafort had helped edit which defended his work in the country. Manafort has been charged with money laundering, tax evasion and failure to disclose foreign lobbying, as part of Mueller’s Russia probe. He’s pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, continued to defend the op-ed Monday, even after the judge said that she considered Manafort’s ghostwriting of the op-ed an attempt to “circumvent” her gag order. 

It’s difficult for Manafort “to sit and watch his reputation” be “besmirched in the press,” Downing said, adding that he would like to get more advice from her on how to manage the negative media attention.

Jackson said it was not her job to give Manafort advice, but that he could come to her with individual queries about whether certain actions would violate the gag order. She noted that his attorneys had had the opportunity to object to her gag order when she first proposed it, but that they had not. “There’s a lot of negative press going on about the prosecutors,” she said, adding that Manafort’s team would accuse them of violating the gag order if they tried to counteract with a move akin to Manafort’s ghostwriting.

Manafort Inching Towards A Bail Package

With the op-ed dealt with, the judge turned to the other issues she had with the bail package his attorneys were assembling in consultation with Mueller’s team.

She raised concerns that some of the properties that Manafort is seeking to put up as bail did not have appraisals connected to them in the court filings. For at least one of them, his attorneys had submitted Zillow listings to show the property’s worth instead.

“Zillow is actually considered to be pretty accurate,” Downing said in defense of the move. The comment drew murmured laughter in the courtroom.

Jackson indicated that she would like to see appraisals or other formal confirmations of the properties’ values before approving them for bail, along with other financial details related to the proposed package.

She was also wary of Manafort’s request that he be able to travel between Florida, New York and the Washington area if he were to be released from home confinement. Jackson suggested that if his package was approved, he would still have to give pre-trial services a fair amount of warning before traveling between the three places.

Gates Waives A Conflict Issue

Another question Jackson dealt with was the potential conflict Rick Gates — the Manafort business partner who’s also been charged in the case — could face because one of his attorneys, Walter Mack, is also representing a Gates associate accused of a film fraud scheme in a separate case in New York.

Gates went through the process of waiving the conflict by answering a number of questions in front of the judge confirming he understood the potential conflict for him.

His attorneys, it appears, still have some ways to go to in hammering out details with Mueller’s team as they come up with a bond package for Gates. In the meantime, Jackson seemed annoyed with the frequent requests Gates has made to leave house arrest for various family events, beyond the general exceptions laid out in the home confinement order. She pointed specifically to his decision to sign on as a coach to one of his children’s sports teams.

Gates, she said, it appeared to her, was trying to turn his home confinement into a “home confinement unless I want to be elsewhere.”

Scheduling Update

The parties in the case agreed to put on the books a status conference on Jan. 16, when they could continue to discuss any discovery issues and begin to come up with a schedule leading into the trial.

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ATLANTA (AP) — Democrats are considering a plan that would limit — but not abandon — the influence of “superdelegates” in the next presidential primary, after a bruising 2016 primary prompted allegations by Bernie Sanders’ supporters that the system was rigged.

The changes, outlined in a draft proposal obtained by The Associated Press, probably wouldn’t have made a difference in last year’s primary. Hillary Clinton received at least 3 million more primary votes than Sanders.

But the new proposal would dent the ability of heavy favorites like Clinton to stockpile early endorsements and claim a wide delegate lead before voters actually cast ballots.

Superdelegates are the party leaders and elected officials who get a say in the nomination race. In 2016, they favored Clinton by lopsided margins, and Sanders supporters believe he lost the nomination in part because of it.

In the draft proposal, a special national party commission calls for keeping some 400 members of the Democratic National Committee as automatic delegates to the convention.

But under the new rules, those superdelegates would have to tie their votes on the convention’s first ballot to the outcome of primaries and caucuses. In 2016, all superdelegates were allowed to support either candidate.

Some superdelegates would retain their right to vote as they please. That includes member of Congress, sitting governors and other high-profile party elders, a group that varies in size from convention to convention.

At the 2016 convention, unpledged superdelegates accounted for about 15 percent of the all votes. As it stands, the proposal would at least cut that share in half.

The proposal tracks a compromise already endorsed by the Sanders and Clinton camps.

The issue is among several that will be debated Friday and Saturday at the final meeting of national Democrats’ Unity Commission, a panel appointed by Clinton, Sanders and DNC Chairman Tom Perez to recommend changes for the party after the last contentious primary season.

The full national party committee will consider the commission’s ideas next year.

Larry Cohen, a Sanders supporter a co-chair of the Unity Commission, declined to comment on the details, but said, “We will be governed by what a full convention has already approved.”

Cohen and other Democrats stressed, however, that commission members have been busy circulating amendments ahead of the commission’s weekend gathering in metro Washington.

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Three men accused of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees asked a federal judge Friday to include prospective jurors from rural western Kansas because they are twice as likely to have voted for President Donald Trump.

A defense motion argues that plans to only summon citizens in the more urban counties closest to the federal courthouse in Wichita is a discriminatory practice that excludes rural and conservative jurors. The trial begins March 19.

FILE – This Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 booking photo provided by the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office in Wichita, Kan., shows Patrick Eugene Stein, one of three members of a Kansas militia group charged with plotting to bomb a mosque and an apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Garden City, Kan. (Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office via AP File)

Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights for allegedly planning to detonate truck bombs in the meatpacking town of Garden City the day after the November 2016 election. Wright also faces a charge of lying to the FBI.

The three men, who were indicted in October 2016, have pleaded not guilty.

FILE – This Oct. 14, 2016 file photo provided by the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office in Wichita, Kan., shows Curtis Allen, one of three members of a Kansas militia group charged with plotting to bomb a mosque and an apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Garden City, Kan. (Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office via AP File)

“This case is uniquely political because much of the anticipated evidence will center around, and was in reaction to, the 2016 Presidential election,” defense attorneys wrote.

They also argued the case will require jurors to weigh whether the alleged conduct constitutes a crime or whether it is constitutionally protected speech and assembly and the right to bear arms.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in an email that it was “evaluating the motion.”

FILE – This Oct. 14, 2016 photo provided by the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office shows Gavin Wright, one of three members of a Kansas militia group charged with plotting to bomb a mosque and an apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Garden City, Kan. (Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office via AP File)

Prosecutors have argued the men formed a splinter group of the militia Kansas Security Force that came to be known as “the Crusaders.” Wright is quoted in a wiretap transcript as saying he hoped the attack would “wake people up” and inspire others to take similar action against Muslims.

Stein’s former attorney told the court in an earlier hearing that his client believed then-President Barack Obama would declare martial law and not recognize the validity of the election if Trump won, forcing militias to step in.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Monday said that he would have a “hard time” working with a colleague that he thinks “molested a child,” referring to allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Graham on CNN said that if Moore wins the special election on Tuesday, Republicans “can’t deny him” a seat in the Senate, but “the moment he’s seated he becomes a member of the body.”

“The Senate has its own way of dealing with membership in the body,” Graham said. “There’ll be an Ethics Committee investigation, and if the Ethics Committee, in a bipartisan manner, supports the allegations of these women that he in fact is a child molester, then my view is, that’s inconsistent with being a member of the body.”

Numerous women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct, and of pursuing them sexually when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. One woman, Leigh Corfman, alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter when she was 14 years old, two years below the age of consent in Alabama.

“I’ll have a hard time, quite frankly, keeping somebody in the body that I think molested a child, but we’ll see what happens,” Graham said.

He said that if Moore wins, he “will be the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats.”

“It will define the 2018 election, at least 2018,” Graham said. “To think you can elect Roy Moore without getting the baggage of Roy Moore is pretty naive. I wished he would have stepped aside.”

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NEW YORK (AP) — Mario Batali is giving up oversight of the daily operations at his restaurant empire following reports of sexual misconduct by the celebrity chef over a period of at least 20 years.

The online site Eater New York reported Monday that the incidents involve at least four women, three whom worked for Batali. In a prepared statement sent to The Associated Press, Batali said that the complaints “match up” with his past behavior.

“I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family,” Batali said.

A spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group says an employee reported inappropriate behavior by Batali in October. The company told Eater it was the first formal complaint against Batali and that he was reprimanded and required to attend training.

Batali will also take leave from his ABC cooking show, “The Chew.”

“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” the network said Monday. “ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — An official has quit the Republican National Committee over the GOP’s support of Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces accusations of sexual assault and harassment.

Joyce Simmons, the GOP national committeewoman from Nebraska, emailed the 168-member governing body Monday to inform them that she had tendered her resignation. She writes: “I strongly disagree with the recent RNC financial support directed to the Alabama Republican Party for use in the Roy Moore race.”

Simmons adds that she wishes she could have continued her service “to the national Republican Party that I used to know well.’

The RNC had pulled support from Moore after the allegations surfaced against him last month. But the organization re-entered the race once President Donald Trump endorsed Moore, citing the need for a Republican in the seat.

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Former President Barack Obama has recorded a robocall on behalf of Democratic Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones, CNN reported Monday.

“This one’s serious,” Obama tells Alabamians in the recorded phone message, CNN reported. “You can’t sit it out.”

“Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress,” he says. “Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama.”

The special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat will take place Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Last week, Obama said in a speech at the Economic Club of Chicago that “things can fall apart fairly quickly” if Americans don’t “tend to this garden of democracy.” He referenced Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and urged his audience to vote.

President Donald Trump has gotten involved in the Alabama Senate race as well, recording a robocall for Roy Moore in addition to holding a rally Friday in Pensacola, Florida, less than an hour from the Alabama border. Trump has endorsed Moore by name on his widely read Twitter account, as well.

Moore has been accused of initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old when he was an assistant district attorney, among a number of other charges of sexual impropriety and assault.

He’s also drawn scrutiny for his extremely right-wing views, even for deep red Alabama: He has spoken positively of the coherence of families when slavery existed, and, as reported by CNN Sunday, he said in 2011 that eliminating constitutional amendments after the Bill of Rights would “eliminate many problems.”

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President Donald Trump on Monday railed against the media on Twitter not long after the New York Police Department confirmed that a pipe bomb detonated in the New York City subway.

Trump’s tweet pushing back on a the New York Times story about his television-viewing habits came after the White House confirmed he had been briefed on the explosion, but before Trump made any public comment about the incident.

The President claimed that the New York Times story was “false” and that he rarely watches CNN or MSNBC.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that Trump begins his days by watching cable news and spends at least four hours each day, and sometimes as much as eight hours, watching the news on television.

The Times defended its reporting on Monday in response to Trump’s tweet.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Sunday that even before Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, he wasn’t fit to serve in the Senate.

Calling the Republican National Committee’s decision to fund Moore’s campaign a “mistake,” she said she was “disappointed” the committee resumed last week its support of the embattled candidate, whom multiple women have said either pursued relationships or made unwanted sexual advances toward them when they were teens and he was in his 30s.

“I would point out that I did not support Mr. Moore even prior to these allegations of sexual misconduct because I was concerned about his anti-Muslim comment, his anti-LGBT comments, most important of all he’s been removed twice from the Alabama Supreme Court for failure to follow lawful judicial order,” she said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.   

She said her party cares just as much about addressing sexual harassment and assault as Democrats and said members of Congress have a “tough decision to make” about “whether it’s our role as senators to overturn the will of the people” when someone is accused of sexual misconduct after they’ve been elected, like what happened with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

There’s a new awakening in our country that this is pervasive, whether we’re talking about Hollywood or Wall Street or the media or Capitol Hill,” she said. “And that’s why I’m joining a bipartisan group of senators who are trying to look at our own procedures on Capitol Hill to assure that allegations of sexual misconduct involving members or staff are dealt with seriously.”

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A group of women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct came together on Monday and urged Congress to investigate claims of sexual harassment and assault against Trump.

“We are not holding our president accountable for what he is and who he is,” Jessica Leeds, who accused Trump of groping and kissing her on a plane in the late 1970s or early 1980s, said on Monday morning.

She said that she is hopeful the #MeToo movement, which calls attention to sexual harassment and assault, will bring change.

“I’m hoping that it creates more movement and that we get a change,” Leeds said. “We all have to hope.”

Rachel Crooks, who accused Trump of forcibly kissing her in 2005, said that if Congress is willing to investigate Franken, they should also look into claims against the President.

The women who spoke out in a press conference on Monday morning were featured in the video “16 Women and Donald Trump” from Brave New Films.

After the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape revealing Trump bragging about groping women was released about a month before the 2016 election, Trump faced a barrage of sexual misconduct allegations. Trump denied the allegations and pressed on with the campaign, going on to win the White House.

The accusations about Trump have come under increased scrutiny over the past few months as several prominent politicians and members of the media have been accused of sexual misconduct. Trump has also thrown his support behind Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces sexual misconduct allegations as well.

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