Judge Makes an Example Out of Manafort by Throwing Him in Jail

Judge Makes an Example Out of Manafort by Throwing Him in Jail

Judge Makes an Example Out of Manafort by Throwing Him in Jail

Mueller is really putting the screws to Paul Manafort. Yesterday, prosecutors alleged Manafort was engaging in witness tampering, and the judge in one of his cases thought the charges so dangerous to society that she ordered him into custody. When is the last time you heard a defendant go into pretrial custody for witness tampering? Maybe if the tampering involved a threat of murder! Here, mild mannered, at worst white collar criminal, Paul Manafort may have simply been procuring favorable testimony. There is zero allegation of a threat to produce that testimony – just simply a possible effort to get the stories to line up. This action of putting him in jail prior to trial is quite extraordinary.

 

Paul Manafort is currently subject to criminal proceedings in two different courts. In the U.S. District Court, in Alexandria, Virginia,  Judge T.S. Ellis III, has been more sympathetic to Manafort and actually demanded the prosecutors play it straight. In the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, courtroom of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, not so much.

So what did Manafort do?

Manafort allegedly asked two unnamed individuals who had worked with him on lobbying business, including setting up congressional meetings, to tell investigators that their lobbying work had only happened in Europe, and to get their European contacts on the same page as well.

Yikes! Lock him up! He is a danger to the public! Revoke his $10 million dollars in bail!

Manafort has been under house arrest since October, 2017. So somehow, if he were communicating with potential witnesses, putting him in jail while awaiting trial is going to stop him from contact with potential witnesses. Has this judge never heard of the Aryan Brotherhood? Their leadership thrives in jail, and very easily orders hits on individuals from thousands of miles away. If Paul Manafort is a danger society, so much so that he can’t be left to rot on house arrest, putting him jail will protect no one.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she “struggled with this decision.” She said the legal standard at play was whether he was a “danger” to the public, meaning was there the possibility of Manafort committing future crimes if allowed to remain out of jail.

The judge rejected the defense’s arguments that there was no clear order from the court over who the defendant could and could not contact while preparing for trial. Jackson said she could not “draft a clear enough order” to cover all current and future contacts.

Judge, is it so hard to clearly state not to contact specific people? Or not to contact anyone who might be a witness in the case? No, it’s not that hard. It’s done every day. Do your job.

“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” Jackson said to Manafort, adding that she could not “turn a blind eye” to the special counsel’s new allegations of witness tampering while under order not to do so.

Jackson blasted Manafort, stating that he has treated much of the legal proceedings over the past several months as just another “marketing exercise.”

This is absolutely ridiculous, and an easy case of a judge making an example out of political prosecution. If the judge is asserting punishment, then sending him to jail might make sense. If she is actually asserting that putting him jail will prevent this action she is delusional.

Manafort’s lawyers told Jackson on Friday that even if the contacts were improper, which they denied, she could limit the problem with steps short of jail, such as a no-contact order barring Manafort from contacting potential witnesses.

Jackson disagreed.

“This isn’t middle school, I can’t take his cellphone,” she said, adding that she doubted she could draft an order comprehensive enough to ensure against any possible violations.

Defendants are rightly locked up when they violate the conditions of their pretrial release, but the violations are generally thought to be when violence is a real possibility. Here, it sounds like Manafort was just getting his ducks lined up, just getting everybody on the same page – if he even did that. This is perhaps a technical violation of his agreement (what exactly the agreement says is not known), but charges of witness tampering almost always involves serious threats of violence or intimidation.

Under 18 U.S.C section 1512, a person who kills or threatens to kill, or uses physical force or threat of physical force, or knowingly uses intimidation, threats, or corruption, or harasses a person, or who personally alters, destroys, or conceals information is subject to the penalties for witness tampering. In this case, there does not appear to be any intimidation, much less threats of violence.

According to documents filed in federal court, Manafort reached out to would-be witnesses in February after his superseding indictment was unsealed. Manafort allegedly tried to make at least three phone calls and send at least two encrypted text messages to a potential witness “in an effort to secure materially false testimony…” the special counsel claimed.

The court documents said that the person was trying to avoid contact with Manafort and “understood Manafort’s outreach to be an effort to ‘suborn perjury.’”

The special counsel said Manafort’s actions violate federal law, and therefore violate the terms of his pretrial release. Manafort’s past charges remain.

Manafort’s first trip comes up in July, so he will likely be in custody until then. If convicted he faces a sentence of life in prison. My impression of Paul Manafort is that he will rather stand his ground than give anybody an inch. Expect a fight to the figurative death with Manafort.

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4 Comments
  • Scott says:

    Are you suggesting that Mueller and the judge are as crooked as the hierarchy of the FBI?…. hmmm…. is it worth asking which President put this judge on the bench?? Or what her political affiliation is?

  • rbj says:

    So Manafort, not convicted of any crime yet, is going to see more jail time than the guy who broke six ribs of a sitting US Senator.

  • skillyboo says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that we are the enemy and the enemy is scaring the bejesus out of them.

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