Former Trump Campaign Chairman Jailed For Witness Tampering

Paul Manafort is the first victim of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election involvement.

What you need to know
  • Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been jailed for witness tampering
  • He's pleaded not guilty to the charges
  • Trump called the sentence 'tough'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A judge on Friday sent longtime Republican political operator and businessman Paul Manafort to jail pending trial after a charge of witness tampering, 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 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 Virginia, and was 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.

The Mueller investigation claims its first victim. Image: Reuters.

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 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 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 presidency, is looking into whether any Trump campaign associates coordinated with Russia and if Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe.

Moscow denies U.S. intelligence agency allegations that it interfered in the election and Trump denies collusion.