Federal judge jails ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort ahead of trial


US President Donald Trump's former election campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was sent to jail pending trial on Friday after being charged with witness tampering, the latest episode in his long fall from grace.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that there was no way to restrain Manafort from contacting people if he remained on bail.

A June 8 indictment accused Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort aide and political operative, of having ties to Russian intelligence, with tampering with witnesses about their past lobbying for Ukraine's former pro-Russian government.

Businessman and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is headed to jail after a federal judged determined evidence against him of witness tampering is valid. Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn is also cooperating with Mueller's investigation after pleading guilty, while Trump's longtime fixer Michael Cohen is reportedly considering cooperation with a separate federal investigation in Manhattan.

"Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time", the president told reporters.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he believed his former campaign manager Paul Manafort received a tough sentence and wondered why the same hasn't happened for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

He faces several felony charges - including tax evasion, bank fraud, money-laundering conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent - related to his Ukrainian political work, money he funnelled through offshore accounts and loans he took out on property in the US.

The Virginia indictment, which will go to trial in July, will focus on fraud charges.

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Later, Trump took to Twitter, writing "Didn't know Manafort was the head of the Mob".

In response to the news, President Trump tried to downplay his ties to Manafort.

Mueller filed new obstruction of justice charges last week against Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to the multiple counts against him.

Sending the 69-year-old Manafort to jail could boost the pressure on him to cut a deal with Mueller, whose main task is to determine whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow on its election meddling efforts.

Manafort turned around briefly to wave to his wife before heading out a door at the back of the crowded courtroom, witnesses said.

According to a Washington court filing earlier this week, Manafort contacted Kilimnik recently to get his help to influence two unnamed people - said to be European-based public relations consultants - in their testimony to Mueller on the so-called Hapsburg Group. "This is not middle school", she said.

The president also referred incorrectly to Manafort's pre-trial detention, calling it a "tough sentence".

Defense attorneys argued that Manafort had been ignorant about who the witnesses in his trial were. In December, Mueller's team asked the court to revise the terms of Manafort's release after they learned he was ghostwriting an op-ed about his lobbying work for Ukraine while out on bail.