US judge sends Manafort to jail pending trial

Paul Manafort, whose charges arise from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 US presidential election, is currently confined to his home.

FILE: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse on 23 May 2018 in Washington, DC.  Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Friday revoked bail conditions for Paul Manafort, a move that will force US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman to spend his time in a jail cell awaiting his criminal trial.

US District Judge Amy Berman made the decision after prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, alleged that Manafort and one of his associates had tried to tamper with witnesses in the case.

Since Manafort was first indicted last October, he has remained on home confinement, required to wear an electronic-monitoring device. His trial is scheduled for September.

His trial on the related charges in Virginia is set for 25 July. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort is currently confined to his home in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, and forced to wear a GPS monitoring device.

Mueller, whose investigation could threaten Trump’s presidency, is investigating whether the president’s 2016 campaign colluded with Moscow and whether Trump has unlawfully sought to obstruct the Russia probe. Trump has called Mueller’s investigation a witch hunt and has denied wrongdoing.

Jackson has rebuffed Manafort’s repeated requests to end his home confinement in exchange for pledging $10 million in real estate as collateral.

An 8 June indictment charged Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort aide and political operative with alleged ties to Russian intelligence, with tampering with witnesses about their past lobbying for Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

The indictment accused Manafort and Kilimnik of attempting to call, text and send encrypted messages in February to two people from a political discussion group - the so-called Hapsburg Group - that Manafort worked with to promote Ukraine’s interests in a bid to sway their testimony.

Mueller’s team this month asked the judge to revoke Manafort’s bail, saying his “obstructive” conduct “instils little confidence that restrictions short of detention will assure Manafort’s compliance with the court’s orders and prevent him from committing further crimes.”