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US judge denies Manafort’s request to modify his bail terms

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The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson means Manafort will be forced for now to remain under house arrest unless he is able to offer alternatives that are acceptable to the court.

A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.

Manafort and Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, were indicted in October as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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They face charges including conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud the United States and failure to register as foreign agents for political work they did representing a pro-Russia Ukrainian party.

Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty.

Manafort has remained under house arrest due to a dispute over a bail package the judge approved in December.

In a court filing unsealed recently, his lawyer said Manafort’s family “simply could not meet” financial terms of that bail package, which would have allowed his home confinement to be lifted.

Manafort’s attorney has since proposed a new package, in which collateral posted would be two properties in New York and two in Virginia that he claims are worth more than $10 million.

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The special counsel’s office took issue with that plan in a filing unsealed on Friday. It said it had uncovered “additional criminal conduct” by Manafort in connection with a series of “bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies” related to a mortgage on his property in Alexandria, Virginia.

The special counsel’s office said his proposal to post his Alexandria home to secure his bond was also flawed, because that home and another in Bridgehampton New York are both securing a $9 million loan and could be confiscated in the event of a foreclosure.

The judge’s order on Thursday did not mention the fraud allegations, but she agreed Manafort would need to post additional security because the Alexandria home “has already been pledged in its entirety as collateral” for the mortgage.

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Her order gives him another chance to come back with a fresh bail proposal, and permits him to include as collateral a condominium he owns in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City, if he shows proof his mortgage payments are current.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Frances Kerry and David Gregorio

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The Republicans’ impeachment lawyer made 2 huge mistakes in questioning Gordon Sondland

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered complex and convoluted impeachment testimony on Wednesday about his involvement in President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. He gave detailed evidence recounting the president and the rest of the administration’s involvement in his effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations of Trump’s political opponents — including by leveraging a potential White House meeting and a hold on military aid.

But he also, to the Republicans’ delight, left some ambiguity about how much Trump had been involved in the effort to leverage the aid, saying that he had “presumed” Ukraine’s announcement of the investigations would release the hold. And he noted that, in one phone call the president — as the scheme was slowly being uncovered — Trump angrily denied there was a quid pro quo.

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Rick Santorum smacked down for claiming Sondland testimony helped Trump

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On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) tried to argue that the testimony of E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland actually helped President Donald Trump — and was promptly challenged.

"I think the Democrats had a good morning. I don't think they had a good afternoon," said Santorum. "I think what when the Republicans actually started questioning Sondland about the details, I think it fell apart a little bit."

"How so?" asked Chris Cuomo.

"He said the president never said any of these things to him," said Santorum. "In fact, what the president said, he quoted what the president said is, no, there's no quid pro quo. What he says is, well, I'm surmising, this is what I'm just sort of gathering. Did anything come from the president? No, it came from Rudy Giuliani."

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‘The cost of acquitting Donald Trump just went up’ for the Republicans: MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid

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MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid explained during the post-hearing wrap-up that things aren't looking good for Republican senators up for reelection in 2020.

In the wake of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony, things are getting more difficult for Republicans faced with a vote on impeachment.

"Even if [the numbers] don't move, the problem is going to be a lot of these people have to run for re-election, letting the president off the hook when it's pretty clear what happened," Reid said. "This is pretty simple, and if I'm Cory Gardener (R-CO), I'm not feeling great."

Brian Williams noted that Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is one of the many Republicans "who's leaving town on a fast horse." If anyone could be pealed off by Democrats, Williams thinks it is Hurd.

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