As I write this, the former Head Campaign Chairman for the President of the United States is sitting in jail. His restrictive bail, that included ankle bracelets, revoked because he attempted to tamper with witnesses. While it may seem sudden, this has been building for a long time. Here’s a timeline of how Manafort got his cubicle with bars.
2007–2015: Manafort engages in lobbying efforts on behalf of pro-Russia parties and interests in Ukraine. The organizations he worked with destabilized the country and are closely tied to Russian intelligence operations. These activities legally obligated to Manafort to register as a foreign agent, but he did not do so. Manafort also worked with Russian spies and agents in elaborate bank fraud and money laundering schemes to illicitly earn tens of millions that he did not report to the IRS.
Mid-2014: The FBI begins investigation of Paul Manafort for potential criminal activity related to representation of Russian interests in Ukraine.
March 29, 2016: Paul Manafort joins Trump campaign to coordinate delegates for the upcoming Republican National Convention. This role was crucial since there were coordinated efforts to convince delegates committed to Trump to not support his nomination.
May 19, 2016: Manafort is promoted to Trump Campaign Chairman.
May 21, 2016: George Papadopoulos emails Paul Manafort, informing him “Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.” Manafort forwards the email to future co-indictee Rick Gates: “We need someone to communicate that [Donald Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
June 9, 2016: Manafort participates in the secret meeting with Russians arranged to get dirt on Hillary Clinton because the Russians wanted to help Trump. Jared Kushner and Trump Jr. are also there. They later claim the meeting actually only talked about Russian adoptions.
August 15, 2016: The NY Times reports potentially illegal off-book secret payments to Manafort from pro-Russia groups in Ukraine.
August 19, 2016: Trump abruptly fires Manafort. However, Manafort retains his apartment in Trump Tower and continues informally working with and advising the campaign. For example, Manafort pushed Pence as Trump’s running mate.
June 27, 2017: Manafort finally files to retroactively be recognized as a foreign agent.
July 25, 2017: Manafort voluntarily testifies behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
October 30, 2017: A 12-count indictment against Manafort and his close business associate Rick Gates is released charging them with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as unregistered agents of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and multiple counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The indictment alleges Manafort and Gates acted as agents for pro-Russian parties and elements of the Ukrainian government (tied to former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych). They received millions in payments from the pro-Russia elements and then “in order to hide the Ukraine payments from United States authorities . . . laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.” They then lied about it to investigators and did not report the income on their taxes.
February 20, 2018: Mueller indicts Alex Van Der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on behalf of pro-Soviet interests in the Ukraine. The indictment charges Van Der Zwaan of lying to the FBI regarding communications he had with Gates and an unidentified “Person A” that included secretly recorded calls with Gates and Person A. The indictment also alleges Van Der Zwaan deleted emails sought by the Special Counsel. The communications at issue were in September 2016 just after Manafort formally left the Trump Campaign and while Gates was still with the Trump Campaign.
February 22, 2018: Mueller releases a new 32 count indictment detailing additional counts of tax fraud, money laundering and bank fraud totaling tens of millions of dollars.
February 23, 2018: Rick Gates strikes a plea agreement and pleads guilty to multiple counts for conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements. Gates stipulates to a Statement of Criminal Information spelling out facts and allegations that are true. The Criminal Information stipulated to by Gates completely sells out Manafort as it details wide ranging schemes to defraud the United States, money launder, bank fraud and tax fraud. Mueller issues yet another superseding indictment against Manafort detailing additional allegations of money laundering, bank fraud and sponsoring foreign lobbyists without the required disclosures.
March 9, 2018: The judge in Paul Manafort’s case orders him to be confined to his house and monitored by GPS bracelets. The judge states:
“The Defendant is a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large, as well as every incentive to do so. Specifically, given the nature of the charges against the defendant and the apparent weight of the evidence against him, defendant faces the very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison”
April 3, 2018: Dutch Attorney Alex van Der Zwaan is sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $20,000 for lying to Mueller’s team, attempting to conceal or destroy evidence, and assisting Manafort and Gates in their money laundering schemes.
June 4, 2018: Government attorneys file a motion to revoke Paul Manafort’s bail on grounds he has used his freedom to attempt to illegally, and in violation of his bail conditions, influence witnesses. The government argues this is part of a pattern of misconduct aimed at improperly influencing his trial during his bail and that the only solution is incarceration.
June 8, 2018: Mueller issues a new superseding indictment against Manafort adding a new name to the indictment list in Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik. Manafort and Kilimnik are accused of what has become the usual array of charges associated with conspiracy to defraud the United States, FARA reporting violations, money laundering and tax evasion. However, the new indictment also charges Manafort and Kilimnik with obstruction of justice via witness tampering. In particular, they are charged with corruptly attempting to persuade two witnesses with intent to influence, delay or prevent testimony in violation of 18 USC 1512. This witness tampering occurred in February and April of this year. They are the basis for the government motion to revoke his bail.
June 9, 2018: Manafort’s attorneys file a brief accusing the government of prosecutorial misconduct for trying to taint the jury pool in making the Motion to Revoke Bail.
June 15, 2018: Rejecting the prosecutorial misconduct claims of Manafort’s attorneys, the judge revokes Paul Manafort’s jail for attempted witness tampering. He is promptly removed from the courtroom by U.S. Marshals to the jail holding area. The judge’s decision required a probable cause determination that Manafort committed another crime while out on bail.
Manafort is likely to stay in jail until his trial, currently scheduled for September. If convicted the severity of his crimes could keep him in jail for the rest of his life. As he sits behind bars now Manafort must face the real possibility that he will never see daylight again. Other than an unlikely acquittal there are two things that can save him. He can “flip” and cooperate with the investigation or Trump can pardon him.
Trump is taking a two prong approach of trying to distance himself from Manafort while stating he is supportive of him and might pardon Manafort. Trumps is saying false things like his Former Campaign Manager “has nothing to do with our campaign” and only worked for him for 49 days. In fact, Manafort formally joined the campaign in late March and formally left on August 19, 2016. It was over 150 days. Further, Manafort continued to advise and work with the campaign (and Trump personally) informally after officially leaving the campaign.
"Trump and Giuliani have been making statements suggesting a pardon for Manafort is on the table. Trump said “I tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago.” Well it’s true they went back as many as 12 years. But they also went back 11 years, and 10 years, and 9 years, and 8 years, and 7 years, and 6 years, 5 years, and 4 years, and 3 years. The indictment expressly cited bank fraud and money laundering continuing into 2015. Tax evasion goes into 2016 and 2017. The lying to investigators was in 2017 and the witness tampering was just a few months ago, in February and April.
After the bail revocation Trump also made this supportive tweet.
Rudy Giuliani may have made the most direct statement suggesting a future Presidential pardon for Manafort, declaring that in light of Manafort going to jail this “might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons.”