In a deserved reversal of fortunes for the embattled former Trump campaign chairman, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson this morning revoked Paul Manafort’s bail and instead ordered that he be taken into custody after evidence was presented that he had engaged in witness tampering while out on bond prior to his September trial.
While Manafort has not yet been sentenced, but rather placed in pre-trial detention, many on the right are suddenly – and conveniently – outraged at the very existence of the concept of detaining someone unfit to remain at large as they await trial. Notwithstanding the fact that Manafort has continued to flagrantly break the law even while under federal investigation, Republicans seemed to have quite a difficult time comprehending why he shouldn’t be allowed to roam free.
Among those “outraged” individuals was Alan Dershowitz who, it should be noted, is an attorney and Harvard professor. Dershowitz claimed that Manafort’s jailing was akin to locking up an innocent man and railed, “There’s something very wrong with the system that presumes guilt this way.”
Of course, Dershowitz’s feigned outrage is nothing more than partisan rabble rousing. Manafort was neither sentenced nor baselessly jailed. He was put in jail because he engaged in witness tampering and there was no way for the judge to guarantee he wouldn’t continue to break the law if he continued to stay out on bail after he used multiple encrypted messaging apps and even spoke to a witness on an Italian cell phone.
Alan Dershowitz on the jailing of Paul Manafort: “There’s something very wrong with the system that presumes guilt this way.” pic.twitter.com/21zB6pdqJ5
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 16, 2018
“This is not middle school. I can’t take his cellphone,” Judge Jackson said of Manafort. “I thought about this long and hard, Mr. Manafort. I have no appetite for this.”
The judge had denied his request to stay the decision pending an appeal, claiming instead that he former campaign chairman “abused” the trust placed in him six months ago.
If Dershowitz was truly concerned about pre-trial detention in this country, he might want to use his voice to defend the staggeringly high number of people of color currently awaiting trial in jail, for whom the problem of choosing between expensive bail or pre-trial detention for relatively minor crimes affects at a shamefully disproportionate rate in this country. The rich white guy actively subverting justice, however, is not going to curry much pity — nor should he.
Manafort is currently awaiting trial for conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering conspiracy, failing to disclose to the US government the extent of his work on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and other Ukrainian entities, and making false statements.
Manafort was promoted to Trump’s presidential campaign manager in April 2016 and resigned in August after it was discovered that he received some $12.7 million dollars for his lobbying work for Ukrainian dictator and Putinist puppet Viktor Yanukovych, who was deposed in the 2014 Euromaidan protests.
Two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination at their party convention in Cleveland, Manafort was offering his former patron, Oleg Deripaska, the Russian billionaire considered one of the “two or three oligarchs closest to Putin,” “briefings” on the 2016 election race.
It was recently discovered that Manafort had previously signed a multiyear contract with Deripaska to “advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin… at the highest levels of the U.S. government — the White House, Capitol Hill and the State Department.”
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”
Dershowitz makes a good point about the issues with pre-trial detention in the United States. If only he didn’t squander his credibility by disingenuously claiming that Paul Manafort should be the poster child for it.