Wednesday, December 1, 2021

U.S. Judge Sends Ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Manafort To Jail

On Friday, a judge sent longtime Republican political operator and businessman Paul Manafort to jail pending trial after a charge of witness tampering. This is the latest episode in a slow fall from grace of a man who was President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016.

Manafort, a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, has been indicted in both Washington and Virginia on mostly financial-related charges, including conspiring to launder money and defraud the United States. He has pleaded not guilty.

Manafort had been on home confinement in Alexandria, Virginia, and required to wear an electronic monitoring device. Last week, Mueller charged him in a new indictment with witness tampering, which Manafort pleaded not guilty to on Friday.

But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington revoked his bail, sending him to jail. “I have no appetite for this,” she said. “But in the end, I cannot turn a blind eye.”

“You’ve abused the trust placed in you,” she said.

Manafort turned around briefly to wave to his wife in the front row before heading out a door at the back of the crowded courtroom, court witnesses said.

Manafort’s spokesman did not respond for comment on the judge’s decision.

Manafort’s legal defense fund asked in a Twitter post, “Why is he the target of a partisan investigation?” echoing a theme of Trump and his supporters that the Mueller inquiry is a political witch hunt.

Trump said it was unfair to send Manafort to jail.

“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. “Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob,” Trump wrote. “Very unfair!”

Mueller, whose investigation has overshadowed Trump’s 18-month-old presidency, is looking into whether any Trump campaign associates coordinated with Russia and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Moscow denies U.S. intelligence agency allegations that it interfered in the election and Trump denies collusion.

Manafort’s trial in Washington is scheduled for September and the trial on the related charges in Virginia is set for July 25.

None of Manafort’s charges refers to the allegations of Russian meddling and largely pre-date the two months he worked as Trump campaign head.


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