Mueller Fights Manafort's Pre-Trial Bid to Get out of Jail

(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller told a U.S. appeals court that Paul Manafort must prepare for his criminal trials while behind bars, citing a judge’s finding he can’t be trusted to play by the rules.

Manafort is appealing U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s June 15 order that sent him to jail for allegedly attempting to tamper with witnesses. He was indicted last year for laundering money and for acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the pro-Russian Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych. The one-time Trump campaign chairman was charged separately with bank fraud and tax violations in Alexandria, Virginia.

He was confined to his home on a $10 million bond until his bail was revoked. On June 4, the special counsel accused Manafort of witness tampering. Four days later, he and a Russian-Ukrainian operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, were indicted for obstructing justice.

Manafort was accused of collaborating with Kilimnik in attempting to contact two former European journalists with whom they’d worked on the Ukrainian lobbying effort and trying to influence their potential trial testimony. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Kilimnik hasn’t responded to the allegations against him.

In revoking his bail, Jackson noted her earlier dissatisfaction with Manafort’s release terms and her demand he provide security for the bond. "It would be entirely impractical and ineffective to demand the surrender of his cellphone or to disconnect his internet service at home," she said, adding such an order would be unenforceable.

Manafort’s lawyers contend Jackson erred and called the evidence against their client "weak." He is currently being held at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Alexandria. His trial there is set to start on July 25. The Washington trial is scheduled for Sept. 17.

Prosecutors said they’ve offered to try and help move Manafort to a facility closer to Alexandria but Manafort “has not availed himself of the government’s offer of assistance."

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