Judge Orders Paul Manafort Jailed Before Trial, Citing New Obstruction Charges

Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, arrived for a hearing in federal court in Washington on Friday.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge revoked Paul Manafort’s bail and sent him to jail on Friday to await trial, citing new charges that Mr. Manafort had tried to influence the testimony of two government witnesses after he had been granted a temporary release.

Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, had posted a $10 million bond and was under house arrest while awaiting his September trial on a host of charges, including money laundering and making false statements.

But Mr. Manafort cannot remain free, even under stricter conditions, in the face of new felony charges that he had engaged in witness tampering while out on bail, said Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court for the District of Columbia. “This is not middle school,” she said during a 90-minute court hearing. “I can’t take away his cellphone.”

The judge’s order was the latest in eight months of legal setbacks for Mr. Manafort, as prosecutors have steadily added new charges since he was first indicted in October. Mr. Trump and members of his team lashed out against the judge’s move, an attack that renewed talk about whether the president might issue pardons to curb a prosecutorial process in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry that he describes as stacked against him.

“Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns,” Mr. Trump wrote in a Twitter post on Friday in which he appeared to confuse the judge’s action with a sentence handed down after conviction. “Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who serves as the president’s personal lawyer, said that the judge had gone too far. He also said in an interview that Mr. Trump should not pardon anyone while the special counsel inquiry is still going on, but “when the investigation is concluded, he’s kind of on his own, right?”

Judge Jackson’s decision that Mr. Manafort could not be trusted to abide by the law unless he was behind bars makes it harder for the White House to dismiss the case against him as the work of overzealous prosecutors. The situation is particularly fraught for Mr. Trump because he is under investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, for one of the same offenses for which prosecutors have accused Mr. Manafort: obstruction of justice.

The judge went out of her way to dismiss the suggestion that Mr. Manafort was a victim of anything but his own actions. “This hearing is not about politics,” she said. “It is not about the conduct of the special counsel. It is about the defendant’s conduct.”

In a superseding indictment filed last week, the prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller claimed that Mr. Manafort and a close associate had contacted two witnesses this year, hoping to persuade them to testify that Mr. Manafort had never lobbied in the United States for Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Russia president of Ukraine until 2014.

The government says that Mr. Manafort violated the law by failing to report his domestic lobbying efforts to the Justice Department and by lying to the federal authorities about his activities.

The day after he was indicted in February in connection with those offenses, prosecutors claim, Mr. Manafort began trying to influence the accounts of two members of a public relations team who had worked with him. The prosecutors said that he had reached out to the two by phone, through encrypted messages and through Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a close associate in Russia.

Greg D. Andres, a prosecutor on Mr. Mueller’s team, said Mr. Manafort’s efforts were “not random outreaches,” but part of “a sustained campaign over a five-week period” aimed at getting the witnesses to back up a false story that he had lobbied only in Europe.



Paul Manafort’s Trail of Scandals

President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has now been accused by the special counsel of violating his plea deal by repeatedly lying to federal prosecutors. But this wasn’t Mr. Manafort’s first scandal.

Paul Manafort was once President Trump’s campaign manager. By the fall of 2018, he was expected to face at least a decade in prison for 10 felony counts. Those counts included financial fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice. “Mr. Manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through. He is evaluating all of his options at this point.” In the hopes of getting a more lenient punishment, Manafort agreed to fully cooperate with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Now, federal prosecutors are saying he violated his plea deal by repeatedly lying during their investigation. Manafort’s lawyer also allegedly passed information to President Trump’s legal team. But this isn’t Manafort’s first scandal. Controversy has trailed the veteran Republican adviser since his earliest work as an international lobbyist and consultant. In the 1980s, Manafort testified before Congress and admitted to using his political influence to win millions of dollars in contracts from federal low-income housing programs. “The technical term for what we do and what law firms, associations and professional groups do is lobbying. For purposes of today, I will admit that in a narrow sense some people might term it influence peddling.” That same decade, Manafort advised the Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, on improving his image in the U.S. Manafort allegedly received $10 million in cash from a Marcos confidante. It was apparently money intended for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign. But the campaign said it never received that money. Foreign contributions to U.S. presidential elections are illegal. Also in the 1980s, Manafort was linked to the prime minister of the Bahamas at a time when the island nation had alleged ties to drug traffickers. Manafort’s company said that the goal of its work was to help the Bahamas obtain more U.S. aid to help curb the drug smuggling. Decades later, Manafort would run Trump’s presidential campaign. “We want America to understand who Donald Trump the man is. Not just Donald Trump the candidate. The composite of his career. Not just from a business standpoint or a political standpoint, from a human standpoint as well.” But he resigned five months into the job in August 2016, in the wake of reports that he received more than $12 million from Viktor Yanukovich, the former Ukrainian president and pro-Russia politician. Yanukovich and his political party relied on advice from Manafort and his firm, which helped them win several elections. The Times uncovered that Manafort and others close to Trump met with the Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer in June 2016. That lawyer claimed to have damaging political information about Hillary Clinton. As for this latest brush with controversy, Manafort’s lawyers insist that their client has been truthful. But they acknowledge that Manafort and Mueller’s team are at an impasse.

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President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has now been accused by the special counsel of violating his plea deal by repeatedly lying to federal prosecutors. But this wasn’t Mr. Manafort’s first scandal.CreditCredit...Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Judge Jackson said she was particularly disturbed that some of the contacts occurred after Mr. Manafort had been specifically ordered by another federal judge to avoid all contacts with witnesses involved in Mr. Mueller’s investigation or the prosecution of him. That judge is overseeing a separate case in Northern Virginia, where Mr. Manafort faces additional charges of tax evasion, bank fraud and failure to report foreign bank accounts.

“I have no appetite for this,” Judge Jackson told Mr. Manafort shortly before he was led out of the courtroom to be transported to jail. “I have struggled with this decision.”

But she said that even if she explicitly ordered Mr. Manafort never to contact any of the government’s 56 witnesses, she could not be certain he would comply. “Will he call the 57th?” she asked.

She noted that she had previously warned Mr. Manafort about his conduct while on house arrest after prosecutors complained that he had broken the rules against contacts with the news media.

“I’m concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as another marketing exercise,” she said. She implied that she was running out of patience with him, saying the case “continues to be to this minute extraordinary.”

Mr. Manafort’s lawyers suggested that he had reached out innocently to his former colleagues, not knowing whether they had been contacted by Mr. Mueller’s team. But Mr. Andres said Mr. Manafort was simply deceiving the court, just as he had deceived law enforcement agencies and tax authorities over the years.

“It’s inconceivable that he did not know they were potential witnesses,” he said.

Mr. Trump has sought to distance himself from Mr. Manafort, who worked for his campaign for nearly five months, including three months as campaign chairman, before he was ousted in August 2016 amid controversy over his Ukraine work. “Mr. Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time,” the president said on Friday morning.

“He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something?” he added. “I feel badly for some people because they have gone back 12 years to find things” — an apparent reference to the allegations against Mr. Manafort.

Asked if he was considering pardons, Mr. Trump said: “I don’t want to talk about that. No, I don’t want to talk about that. But look, I do want to see people treated fairly.”

Besides violating laws that require the disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, the government alleges, Mr. Manafort laundered more than $30 million in income he received over nine years of lobbying for Mr. Yanukovych and his political parties or allies.

As evidence that Mr. Manafort lobbied in the United States, prosecutors submitted a four-page memo that Mr. Manafort wrote to Mr. Yanukovych detailing his campaign to convince members of Congress, the State Department and the Western news media that Mr. Yanukovych was a champion of democratic reforms.

The government claims that the offenses are part of a complex financial conspiracy led by Mr. Manafort and aided by Rick Gates, Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, and Mr. Manafort’s right-hand man, Mr. Kilimnik, who has been linked to Russian intelligence.

Mr. Manafort’s first trial, in Northern Virginia, is scheduled for next month.

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