Washington, D.C. — A federal judge on Friday ordered former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort sent to jail citing new obstruction charges.
Manafort, the first Trump campaign official to be jailed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, had previously posted a $10 million bond and was under house arrest while awaiting a September trial on charges relating to money laundering and making false statements.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Friday she had “struggled” to decide whether or not she should order Manafort to jail but that, in the end, she “couldn’t turn a blind eye” to Manafort’s actions.
“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” Jackson said before ordering Manafort jailed. “This is not middle school,” added. “I can’t take away his cellphone.”
In a tweet on Friday, Trump defended Manafort and called out the judicial system for playing favorites in regard to wrongdoings committed by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”
A federal grand jury, last week, indicted Manafort and a longtime associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, adding to the multiple felony counts Manafort already faced.
In the indictment, investigators for Special Counsel Robert Meuller’s office claimed Manafort and Konstantin had contacted two witnesses earlier this year and attempted to persuade them to testify that Mr. Manafort had never lobbied in the United States for Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Russia president of Ukraine.
The government alleges that Mr. Manafort violated the law by failing to report those lobbying efforts to the Justice Department and by lying to federal authorities about his activities.
The charges against Manafort, however, do not relate to his work on the Trump campaign or involve allegations of Russian election interference.