A federal judge ordered Paul Manafort to jail Friday over charges he tampered with witnesses while out on bail — a major blow for President Trump’s former campaign chairman as he awaits trial on federal conspiracy and money-laundering charges next month.
“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort. “The government motion will be granted, and the defendant will be detained.”
The judge said sending Manafort to a cell was “an extraordinarily difficult decision” but said his conduct — allegedly contacting witnesses in the case in an effort to get them to lie to investigators — left her little choice.
“This is not middle school. I can’t take away his cellphone,” she said. “If I tell him not to call 56 witnesses, will he call the 57th?” She said she should not have to draft a court order spelling out the entire criminal code for him to avoid violations.
“This hearing is not about politics. It is not about the conduct of the office of special counsel. It is about the defendant’s conduct,” Jackson said. “I’m concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as another marketing exercise.”
Manafort was led out of the courtroom by security officers. He turned and gave a last look and wave to his wife, seated in the well of the court. She nodded back to him.
And I've got news for you: Paul Manafort probably will never leave jail either. His trial is going to go very, very badly for him, and even if Trump pardons his federal case tomorrow, the state trial will proceed, and he's most likely going to spend the rest of his life in a cell.
He's the first to go to jail.
He will not be the last.