BY: TANNER KENNEY
At 10:00am on Friday June 15th, 2018, former Trump Presidential Campaign Manager Paul Manafort entered a plea of not guilty to new charges including, among other serious crimes, tampering with witnesses expected to be called to testify against him in an upcoming trial. Originally, Manafort had been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III for numerous international political and financial crimes, themselves followed by superseding indictments that were issued last week, as well.
During today’s hearing, the Special Counsel argued that Manafort posed a significant “danger to the community” should he remain free from federal custody as he may attempt to commit crimes, moving forward, as evidenced by his previous entreaties. By the end of the session, Judge Amy Berman Jackson was in agreement with the prosecution and remanded Manafort into federal custody, revoking his at-home detention, GPS-monitoring, and $10,000,000.00 bail, the major components of his pre-trail release agreement, and sent him directly to prison.
As such, the ongoing case against Manafort for his crimes against the state of Virginia – which cannot be dismissed via presidential pardon – been delayed. Manafort has been chided, in the past, for his attempts to influence public opinion regarding his case in addition to his general lack of candor, throughout this process, and was “specifically ordered by another federal judge to avoid all contacts with witnesses” – something Berman Jackson has “no appetite for[.]”
This news could not come at a worse time for Manafort as, following the announcement of former aide Rick Gates’ plea deal with federal prosecutors, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has ditched his own legal defense team in order to seek out a firm that has experience in negotiating plea deals with the offices of the Southern District of New York.
All of this is to say nothing of the circus that has become the trials of Paul Manafort – from financial malfeasance to political meddling, even his legal defense fund has been tainted by its lack of transparency. Ultimately, and should he be found guilty of the new charges as well as the initial indictments, Manafort faces 305 years in federal prison with a potential release date in the year 2323.
The Special Counsel certainly has its work cut-out, moving forward, given President Trump’s propensity for executive orders and presidential pardons; however, the possibility that one or all of Manafort’s confidants facing charges will ‘flip’ on him increases daily due to the mounting pressure of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
Tanner Kenney is an energy and media professional with a background in journalism and received his M.S. in Global Affairs, Environment & Energy Policy from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Recently, Tanner has focused on the advocacy of sustainable development through renewable energy technologies, transportation efficiency, and inclusive public policy.
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