Former United States Attorney and University of California law professor Harry Litman speculated Tuesday that former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort will be headed to jail for alleged witness tampering. His prediction came after special counsel Robert Mueller asked a judge to yank Manafort's bail on Monday for allegedly attempting to incite perjury among witnesses.
Litman made the prediction during an appearance on MSNBC's Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace. Manafort's behavior was a textbook case of what not to do while on pretrial release, Litman said.
“This is the stupidest thing that a defendant can do, this sort of witness tampering," the former deputy assistant attorney general said.
Prosecutors allege that Manafort attempted to contact witnesses by phone and via WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging program. Two witnesses told investigators that the embattled former campaign chair attempted to coax them into perjuring themselves.
“Prosecutors hate this, judges hate this," Litman explained. "He’s going to have to bring his toothbrush to court on Friday because the statue says, if they find this happened, there’s a presumption that no circumstances exist that will get him safely there for trial."
He continued, "So there’s the real prospect that he now goes to jail, never to leave even until the end of his sentence.”
Judy Amy Berman is expected to rule on Manafort's bail on June 15. The embattled former campaign chair was indicted in October of last year in connection with Mueller's probe into election meddling, along with his former business partner Rick Gates and Trump adviser George Papadopoulos. Manafort, who resigned from the Trump campaign in August 2016, is now facing a slew of federal charges, including conspiracy to launder money and engaging in a conspiracy against the United States. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintained his innocence against the witnessing claims in a statement.
"Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense," his spokesperson Jason Maloni said in a public statement. "We will do our talking in court."
Manafort's former business partner and co-defendant, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and lying to federal investigators.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly slammed Mueller's investigation and branded it a "witch hunt." He has also tried to downplay Manafort's role in his campaign, as he did via Twitter on Sunday.
"Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time (he represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole & many others over the years), but we should have been told that [Former FBI director James] Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!," Trump tweeted.
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