A U.S. federal judge has ordered former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to jail while awaiting his trial scheduled to begin in September. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson revoked Manafort’s bail which had allowed him to live under house arrest in lieu of serving time in jail.
“The harm in this case is harm to the administration of justice and harm to the integrity of the court’s system,” Jackson said, addressing Manafort.
“This is not middle school. I can’t take his cellphone,” Jackson said of Manafort. “I thought about this long and hard, Mr. Manafort. I have no appetite for this.”
Manafort, along with a longtime associate and fellow Trump campaign official Rick Gates, were indicted last October on charges of fraud and money laundering. Since then, there have been two superseding indictments handed down against the longtime Republican political operative, including one two weeks ago that included new obstruction of justice charges.
The charges allege attempts by Manafort to tamper with potential witnesses in his case via messages sent through encrypted messaging apps as well as phone calls.
The messages, several of which were obtained from the witnesses themselves, purportedly show Manafort trying to get two witnesses in particular to corroborate his defense against the charges against him.
Specifically, the messages show Manafort trying to get former associates to back up his assertion that third-party lobbyists he contracted with worked only in Europe on his behalf and not in the U.S.
“We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe,” Manafort wrote to one former associate.
The associate told investigators he believed Manafort’s statements were an effort to “suborn perjury,” because the person knew the individuals Manafort was speaking of also worked in the U.S., not just Europe.
Among the charges against Manafort are charges that he failed to properly declare his foreign lobbying work and work as a foreign agent.
The President tweeted about the developments on Friday, putting distance between he and Manafort, and also asking for further investigation of some of his political opponents.
“Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!” he wrote.
Manafort had been on house arrest since his first indictment in October. His bail had been set at $10 million. Manafort had tried repeatedly to come up with the assets required to fulfill that bond according to court filings, had come up with an arrangement that prosecutors had recently agreed to. Then came the obstruction of justice revelations.
Manafort was taken into custody moments after the judge rendered her decision. He was transferred to the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, 90 miles south of Washington later that day where he will remain incarcerated until the beginning of his trial this fall.
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