Paul Manafort just went to jail—and now has every reason to flip against Donald Trump

Manafort is currently in jail, awaiting sentencing.
Manafort is currently in jail, awaiting sentencing.
Image: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
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Paul Manafort is not used to being deprived of life’s comforts. The perfectly manicured former Trump campaign chair has advised leaders like Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Ukrainian autocrat Viktor Yanukovych. He owns lavish houses across the US, drives a fleet of fancy cars, and has spent nearly $1 million in just one carpet store and $1.3 million in a handful of clothing shops.

Now he is going to jail, giving special counsel Robert Mueller the maximum possible leverage to flip the longtime political operator against the US president.

Manafort had been awaiting trial for charges including bank fraud and money laundering while under house arrest, after posting a $10 million bail bond. But today US district judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort abused the trust of the court by tampering with two witnesses in his case. Mueller’s team filed evidence that Manafort tried to coordinate the testimony of two former business colleagues who allegedly helped him to illegally lobby in the US for Yanukovych.

“You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” Jackson told Manafort, waving away his lawyer’s request that she leave him under house arrest with stricter rules over his communications. ”This is not middle school. I can’t take his cell phone.”

Manafort, 69, has reasons for turning state’s witness that extend well beyond his material discomforts. His former right-hand-man Rick Gates is already cooperating with Mueller’s probe, meaning investigators have insider knowledge about Manafort’s activities. And there are now an extraordinary number of charges against him in two different court proceedings.