Paul Manafort Ordered to Jail After Witness Tampering Claims

Paul Manafort

WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, will be sent to jail pending trial after special counsel Robert Mueller filed new claims against him for witness tampering and argued that he has violated the terms of his bail.

Manafort had been out on $10 million bond and had been wearing an ankle bracelet and under house arrest, but U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson concluded that the violations of his bail warranted incarceration.

Last week, Mueller added new charges to his indictment against Manafort for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, stemming from claims of trying to interfere with potential witnesses. Manafort’s business partner Konstantin Kilimnik was also indicted.

Manafort is awaiting trial scheduled to start later this year after having been charged in October with bank fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and other crimes. He pled not guilty.

Manafort’s initial indictment stemmed from work that he did before he joined the Trump campaign. It involved claims that he acted as an unregistered agent of the government of Ukraine and its Russian-backed leader, Viktor Yanukovych, who was president from 2010 to 2014. The indictment claims that Manafort, working with his associate Gates, generated tens of millions of dollars in income from his work and hid it from U.S. authorities.

Gates reached a plea deal in February and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

Mueller claims that between Feb. 23 and April of this year, Manafort and Kilimnik tried to persuade witnesses with “intent to influence, delay, and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.” The witnesses were former business associates who worked on an effort to promote Yanukovych among European leaders and get them to make statements in support.

At the White House on Friday, Trump told reporters that Manafort worked for him for “a very short period of time.” But Manafort worked on the campaign for a critical period in the campaign, from April to August, 2016, which included the latter critical stages of securing delegates to win the nomination, and then to the Republican convention.

“I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. No obstruction,” Trump told reporters.

Trump had walked out on the White House driveway to be interviewed by Steve Doocy of “Fox & Friends.” In that appearance, he talked extensively about an inspector general’s report on how the FBI handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, but disputed its finding that there was not a political motivation in the decision not to prosecute her.

“The end result was wrong. I mean there was total bias,” Trump said.

Gates is awaiting sentencing, as is Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who pled guilty to charges of lying to the FBI.

Trump later tweeted, “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!”

Manafort was not sentenced, but was sent to jail for violating the terms of his bail.