By James Fite
After hearing the testimony and not guilty plea of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson revoked his bail and ordered him to jail to await trial.
Referring to the allegations that Mr. Manafort had attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation while under house arrest, the Obama appointee explained that she had no confidence Manafort would follow any terms of release she could give. “This is not middle school. I can’t take his cell phone,” the judge said at one point.
Judge Jackson accused Manafort of treating the proceedings in court as “just another marketing exercise” and of abusing the trust that had been placed in him:
“The harm in this case is harm to the administration of justice and harm to the integrity of the court’s system.”
Paul Manafort stands accused of money laundering, fraud, and witness tampering. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled the charges for the money laundering back in February. The allegations of witness tampering to interfere with the Russia investigation – the charge for which he appeared in court Friday and which ultimately got his bail revoked – came about in early June.
Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Manafort attempted to coach two witnesses whose identities have not been revealed so that their testimony worked in his favor. His meddling supposedly took place from late February through April. “The danger is that Mr. Manafort will continue to commit crimes,” argued prosecutor Greg Andres. He and his colleagues asserted that because the defendant committed another crime while on bail, he deserved to sit it out in jail.
The Manafort trial is set to begin July 10. If we assume the trial proceeds relatively quickly – which it probably won’t – and that he is found innocent – which is hardly a foregone conclusion – Paul Manafort faces an absolute minimum of a month’s time in jail. If he is found guilty of all charges, he could well face the remainder of his life in incarceration.