Judge jails Manafort over witness tampering

Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort is going to jail

Judge jails ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort pending trial, citing obstruction charges

Paul Manafort could "never see the outside of a jail cell" after a judge revoked his pre-trial house arrest and sent him behind bars on Friday over allegations of witness tampering, former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman said.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson made the decision to revoke Manafort's bail based on accusations of witness tampering after he contacted potential witnesses in his upcoming conspiracy trial.

In a superseding indictment, the prosecutors claimed that Manafort and a close associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, had contacted the two witnesses this year, hoping to persuade them to testify that Manafort had never lobbied in the U.S. for Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow President of Ukraine who fled to Russian Federation in 2014 after a popular uprising.

Manafort will now have to prepare for two federal trials, one in Washington on September 17 and the other in Virginia on July 25, while locked up in a jail cell.

"Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort", Trump wrote on Twitter even though Manafort has not been sentenced - he has not been convicted on any of the charges.

He also asked the judge to consider the burden it would place on Manafort to prepare for two criminal trials from jail.

"I can not turn a blind eye to this allegation", US District Judge Amy Jackson said.

Mr Manafort (69) and Mr Kilimnik are accused of attempting to tamper with witnesses in the case by trying to get them to lie about the nature of their Ukrainian political work. Mueller's team has said that Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence agencies, a claim he has denied.

According to the court filing, Manafort began messaging and calling one of the witnesses in February shortly the unsealing of the indictment that included the allegations of unregistered lobbying related to the Hapsburg group.

Mueller's team said Manafort wanted the witnesses to back up his claim that prominent Europeans he hired didn't lobby for Ukraine in the US, which would be illegal.

However, as Manafort's legal and financial troubles have come increasingly to light, Trump and his associates have tried to downplay the role he played in the campaign.

In issuing her ruling, Jackson said she had "struggled" with the decision but she couldn't "turn a blind eye" to his conduct. He pled not guilty.

Manafort has been charged with tax fraud, money laundering and illegal lobbying. I can't take his cell phone, ' she said, while adding that he had 'abused the trust placed in you six months ago'.

He has also pleaded not guilty to those charges.

The alleged coverup of the lobbying stems from work that prosecutors say Manafort, Kilimnik and others did with former European politicians, referred to informally as the "Hapsburg group", to advocate on Ukraine's behalf to US and European officials.

Latest News