Federal prosecutors asked a judge Monday night to revoke bail for Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, alleging that he tried to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release.
If the judge agrees, Manafort would likely have to go to jail pending his trial in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Attorneys for Manafort said they had no immediate comment.
According to an FBI affidavit included with the motion, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Manafort used encrypted messaging applications in February to try to reach two unnamed business partners who could be witnesses to his alleged fraud and money laundering.
One of the potential witnesses said he believed Manafort’s outreach was an attempt to “suborn perjury” or to instruct him to lie after a superseding indictment was filed in February against Manafort. The superseding indictment was filed after his co-defendant, Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to Mueller’s investigators.
Gates and Manafort had been indicted together in October in Washington on charges related to their lucrative lobbying work for pro-Russian Ukrainian political figures.
After Gates agreed to cooperate with investigators in February, Manafort pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment, which accuses him of having secretly recruited and funded a group of former European politicians to lobby in the United States on Ukraine’s behalf.
Gates and Manafort helped to create the Hapsburg Group in 2011 to remain “under the radar” to speak on behalf of Ukraine while secretly being paid millions of euros, according to the government. Subsequently, the company disseminated ghostwritten articles in the U.S. media and arranged meetings with members of Congress and the executive branch, the affidavit said.
Manafort’s former son-in-law and business partner, Jeffrey Yohai, pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of financial irregularities and agreed to cooperate with other federal investigations, widely reported to include Mueller’s inquiry.