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Paul Manafort, Rick Gates back in court to discuss trial date

Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates return to court Tuesday morning for a hearing that could give the clearest picture yet of how both sides are preparing for a trial related to the Russia probe.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors have asked for the trial to begin on May 14 — roughly six months before November’s midterm elections.

Prosecutors have turned over 590,000 items such as emails, financial records and other documents to the defense teams, a “substantial portion” of the evidence in the case, according to an overview Mueller’s office filed Friday. About 2,200 of those are particularly relevant or important documents, according to the special counsel’s office.

This process of sharing evidence is typical as both sides build their cases for a trial.

Also at the hearing Tuesday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson may address two other issues that have nagged Gates and Manafort: Their compliance with a gag order around the case, and their attempts to get out from house arrest.

Judge Berman Jackson is likely to address whether Gates violated the gag order when he taped a video that thanked potential donors to his legal defense fund. That video was shown online and at an event primarily for journalists in late December. Gates’ team has told the judge they didn’t think it attempted to influence public perception of the case, and instead was the “right and gracious thing to do” for the launch of the legal defense fund.

Manafort was in a similar predicament with the gag order earlier last month, after he worked on an op-ed that defended his political consulting work in Ukraine and was submitted to a Ukrainian newspaper. Berman Jackson warned him, Gates and the lawyers in the case not to breach the gag order in the future.

Manafort and Gates face 12 total charges of money laundering and lying on federal records related to lobbying work and other business they managed. Both men have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Bail and house arrest

The court action Tuesday could also focus on changes in Manafort and Gates’ bail.

Manafort and Gates have tried since October to gather the paperwork needed to secure their bail amounts and lift their house arrest. Manafort is securing his bail with more than $10 million in real estate and assets, and will get to live in his home in Florida.

Gates’ situation is more complicated. He wants to be able to move around Richmond, Virginia, where he lives. His bail is set for $5 million, but it’s unclear whether he’s able to put that much worth up as collateral. His lawyer said last week that they believe he’s gathered the necessary paperwork for the court to lift his house arrest.

With the updated bail terms, both men will have nightly curfews and wear GPS monitors. Neither will be allowed to go near airports, bus stations and train stations. They can both come to Washington for their court appearances and to meet with lawyers. Their wives will also relinquish their passports, so there will be no international travel for either family.