On Monday, a surprising new revelation came out of the Russia probe — one which could land President Trump's former campaign chairman in some pretty serious trouble. Indeed, you may be wondering if Paul Manafort could go to jail following Robert Mueller's accusation that he attempted to tamper with potential witnesses in his trial. The decision about Manafort's fate will ultimately be made by a judge, but going to jail until his trial later this year is certainly a possibility. Bustle has reached out to Manafort's spokesperson for comment.
Though an official response has not yet been received, Manafort did claim earlier in May that government officials were spreading untrue information about him in a supposed attempt to sway the jurors in his case, The Washington Post reported. He has also pleaded not guilty to various financial crime allegations, maintaining his innocence.
As CNBC explained, Mueller made his latest allegation in a court filing on Monday. The filing accused Manafort of using an encrypted messaging program to contact potential witnesses in his upcoming trials. Mueller accused Manafort of violating the terms of his release by reaching out to these witnesses, The New York Times reported. As the paper noted, the special counsel asked the judge to revise the conditions of Manafort's release or to place him in jail until trial. His trial in Virginia is scheduled for late July and his D.C. trial will take place in September.
According to CNN, Mueller's filing reports that Manafort allegedly "repeatedly contacted" two people who could be witnesses against him during his trials. These individuals had reportedly previously worked on lobbying initiatives with Manafort. Manafort had allegedly been seeking to ensure that he and the witnesses were all on the same page in terms of how they would portray their lobbying efforts, as CNN noted. Similarly, in court documents, FBI agent Brock Domin wrote that Manafort allegedly contacted the two witnesses “in an effort to influence their testimony and to otherwise conceal evidence,” per The Guardian. The paper reported that Agent Domin noted that “the investigation into this matter is ongoing.”
As previously indicated, Manafort has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts in Washington, D.C. and Virginia related to his aforementioned lobbying work. As Andrew Prokop of Vox reported, these charges include "conspiracy to defraud the United States, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal ... and failure to report foreign financial accounts," among others.
As CNN mentioned, Manafort is currently on house arrest, residing at his condo in Alexandria, Virginia. He is not permitted to leave except for (court-determined) necessary appointments. The former campaign chairman has repeatedly tried to accrue enough funds to pay his $10 million bail so he can be released from his GPS-monitored house arrest. However, as CNN noted, he has not yet been successful in achieving this release.
Following the new filing, as CNBC described, several steps must occur before it is determined whether or not Manafort will remain released on house arrest and his unsecured $10 million bail. For example, Manafort's legal team can also make related filings. A federal judge will then respond to the filings and make a final decision regarding the former campaign chairman's release. As CNN noted, prosecutors have submitted the filing accusing Manafort of witness tampering to both the Washington, D.C. and Virginia courts overseeing Manafort's trials. Thus, either one could change the terms of his release or bail.
Overall, Special Counsel Mueller's new filings in Manafort's case could certainly have serious implications for the former campaign chairman — implications that could include him going to jail. Time will tell what the courts ultimately decide and where Manafort will spend his time ahead of his upcoming trial dates.