MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
A dramatic moment at the federal courthouse here in Washington, D.C., today - a judge revoked bail for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and sent him to jail while he awaits trial. NPR national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson was there in the courtroom, and she is here now. Hey, Carrie.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi there.
KELLY: So Paul Manafort in federal custody - why? What's the judge's reasoning here?
JOHNSON: The judge found that Paul Manafort presented a danger to the community not because he might commit a violent crime but because of new charges that he tried to tamper with witnesses after he was already out on bail this year. Prosecutors say Manafort and an associate reached out to some PR executives allegedly to try to get them to stick to a story about whether they were lobbying in the U.S. or just in Europe. The special counsel found out about this, and government lawyer Greg Andres in court today called it a sustained campaign to obstruct justice. He said the government had no confidence that Manafort would follow the rules. And Judge Amy Berman Jackson ultimately agreed.
You know, the judge said she really struggled with this issue. She even told Manafort, I have no appetite for this. But she said she couldn't turn a blind eye to these new allegations. And she considered less drastic measures but ultimately said to Paul Manafort, this is not middle school. I just can't take your cell phone away and make it all better.
KELLY: And what was the scene like at the courtroom today? Was it crazy?
JOHNSON: Oh, my goodness, I got there two hours early, and the line was already long not just with reporters...
JOHNSON: ...But with interns and tourists from out of the state who had come to see the - witness the events. They really got an eyeful. Manafort took notes, paid attention throughout the whole proceeding which took almost two hours. And once the judge made her ruling, he walked to the back of the courtroom with some court security officers. He went to the door, turned, looked back at his wife, waved at her. She nodded, and he went through the door.
KELLY: Now, this is all newsworthy of course because of Paul Manafort's role in the Trump campaign, running the Trump campaign. What's President Trump had to say about this?
JOHNSON: Well, the president tweeted about it today. He said the court ruling decision sending Manafort to jail was very unfair. And earlier in the day, he was asked about this matter by reporters. Here's what he had to say.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for John McCain, or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me - what? - for 49 days or something.
JOHNSON: Well, we checked, and Manafort worked for Trump for almost five months, including a critical period through the Republican National Convention.
KELLY: So a little longer than 49 days - all right, a couple quick questions. What's the next step Paul Manafort and his attorneys could take, and what do we know about where he is being held?
JOHNSON: Yeah, Manafort's lawyer signaled he might try to appeal the ruling that revoked the bail. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marshals Service confirms that Manafort's in custody. They won't say where. I'm hearing he may be in the lockup in Alexandria, Va., which is suburban Washington, D.C. That's awfully close to where his trial is going to be in July. And other well-known people who have spent time there include former New York Times reporter Judy Miller, a bunch of spies, including Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, and convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, among others.
KELLY: And to the big question looming over all of this, which perhaps is unknowable - but do we know whether any of this might prompt Paul Manafort to change his mind and cooperate with the probe and with investigators?
JOHNSON: Right now there's no way to tell. People close to Manafort have told me for a year he has nothing to help the special counsel and nothing that would hurt President Trump. Manafort's 69 years old, though. And if he's convicted, he's already in line to spend what could be the rest of his life in prison. The only way to avoid that short of a not guilty verdict is to cooperate with investigators and get a reduced prison sentence.
KELLY: NPR's Carrie Johnson, thank you very much.
JOHNSON: My pleasure.
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