Paul Manafort is going to jail as he awaits trial.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia ordered former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort detained before his trial in September. Jackson told Manafort that he “abused the trust placed in you six months ago.” She said she “struggled” with Friday’s decision, during a hearing that lasted well over an hour.
Jackson’s order in Washington, D.C., came after Manafort was arraigned on new charges accusing him of attempting to tamper with potential witnesses.
This is not the first time Manafort’s actions while out on bail have brought him back before Jackson. She issued a stern warning in December after he ghostwrote an op-ed for Ukrainian English newspaper Kyiv Post, saying similar action in the future would be considered a violation of a gag order issued in November.
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Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, filed a motion with the court in Washington, D.C., earlier this month alleging that Manafort attempted to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release. A grand jury indicted him on obstruction of justice charges on June 8.
Manafort’s legal team, which consists of Kevin Downing, Thomas Zehnle and Richard Westling, has denied the old charges. Manafort pleaded not guilty to the new charges Friday.
Jackson struck a tone of regret in sending Manafort to jail Friday. She said she thought “long and hard” about the decision, and had “no appetite for this.” But Jackson said she was “troubled” by Manafort’s attempts to contact potential witnesses by using phones and encrypted messaging.
In previous court filings, the special counsel’s office alleged Manafort repeatedly tried to call and message witnesses in an effort to secure false testimony about the scope of his lobbying effort on behalf of the Ukrainian government.
The government lawyer Greg Andres argued Friday that Manafort’s communications were not “random outreaches,” but part of a “sustained campaign” to influence witnesses.
Westling countered that Manafort didn’t know he was reaching out to witnesses, which would have violated a separate court order in a pending case in the Eastern District of Virginia. Rather, Westling tried to convince the judge that issuing a clearer “no contact” order for Manafort would be sufficient, instead of taking the extraordinary step of revoking bail.
But Jackson, in announcing her decision, said, “This is not middle school. I can’t take away his cellphone.”
While Manafort did not pose a physical danger to the community, as Westling had argued, Jackson later said his actions represented a harm to the “administration of justice” and to the “integrity of the court system.”
The newest indictment, filed in Washington, D.C., charged Manafort and his longtime associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. It also left five previous counts against Manafort, including money laundering and making a false statement.
In addition to the district court in Washington, Manafort also faces a trial in another criminal case in the Eastern District of Virginia. That trial, which will be overseen by Judge T.S. Ellis III, is expected to take place late July.
President Donald Trump was quick to bash the ruling on Twitter Friday while mistakingly calling Jackson’s decision a sentencing.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2018