The federal judge overseeing the special counsel’s criminal case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort ordered attorneys in the case to stop talking to the press, reports the National Law Journal. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson did not bar lawyers from talking to the media altogether, but she did order parties, attorneys, and potential witnesses not to make statements to the media or in public settings “that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.”
Jackson said she issued the ruling “in order to safeguard defendants’ rights to a fair trial, and to ensure that the Court has the ability to seat a jury that has not been tainted by pretrial publicity.” At a hearing last week, she criticized Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, for making public statements to the media outside the courthouse after his client’s initial appearance Oct. 30. Downing called the charges against Manafort “ridiculous” and said the indictment against him also showed there was “no evidence” that Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. Manafort and associate, Rick Gates were both indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. A trial is expected next spring.