Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort is currently under house arrest while he awaits trial on a dozen charges including money laundering and conspiracy against the United States. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is hoping to pressure Manafort into cutting a plea deal which would incriminate Donald Trump, while Manafort is content to fight away in court. But now Manafort has just been caught blatantly lying to the judge, meaning he could be headed straight to federal prison – which could fundamentally change his options going forward.
Manafort’s trial has been scheduled for May of 2018, meaning that he’s looking at six months of house arrest before the trial even begins. He’s been trying to convince the judge to relax the conditions of his confinement, so he can travel to his other homes in New York and Florida. His argument for needing to travel to Florida is that he’s working with a business partner there. But now, according to a Huffington Post report (link), that supposed business partner says he’s had no affiliation with Manafort in months.
This means Manafort and his attorney lied to the judge in the hope of getting his confinement conditions relaxed. Judges don’t tend to take to this kind of thing too kindly in general. In addition, Manafort is already seen as a potential flight risk, and the judge could conclude that this may have been part of an attempt at fleeing. The bottom line is there is now a good chance the judge will rule that Manafort is in violation of his bail agreement and revoke it entirely. That would mean Manafort would be stuck in a prison cell indefinitely as he prepares to stand trial.
Not only would Paul Manafort be looking at six months in prison before his trial begins, he would then be stuck in prison as his trial plays out. Considering the number and complexity of the charges against him, that trial could be lengthy. Manafort is 68 years old. If he concludes he can’t handle being in a cell for that long, it could force him to reevaluate his willingness to cut a deal. His only possible chance of getting a deal that involves no prison time would be if he gives up enough evidence to fully take Donald Trump down.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report