A federal judge late Thursday granted a request from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to keep secret a portion of a private discussion they had at the bench with Paul Manafort’s attorneys and the judge during the testimony of Rick Gates.
The special counsel’s office said in a court filing Thursday that the conference should be sealed because it would “reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation.”
“Sealing will minimize the risk of prejudice from the disclosure of new information related to that ongoing investigation,” prosecutors with Mr. Mueller’s team wrote.
That investigation is likely Mr. Mueller’s probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Judge T.S. Ellis III, who is overseeing the trial of Mr. Manafort, the Trump campaign’s former chairman, agreed to their request. He said making the conversation public would “reveal substantive evidence pertaining to an ongoing government investigation.”
The bench conference at issue came Tuesday when Mr. Gates, a former Manafort business partner who worked on the Trump campaign and also the Trump inauguration committee, was testifying. During cross-examination, Manafort attorney Kevin Downing asked Mr. Gates if had been interviewed by the Special Counsel about his time with the Trump campaign.
Mr. Gates never answered the question. Prosecutor Greg Andres raised an objection. The lawyers then met at JudgeEllis’ bench. When they returned, Mr. Downing dropped the question.