Earlier this month, it seemed President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, would be sent to solitary confinement at notorious Rikers Island long before what is considered normal for most prisoners in his circumstance.
Manafort was, until recently, being held in a minimum security facility in Pennsylvania, where he was sent after being sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud, including hiding income from the IRS and obtaining millions of dollars in fraudulent bank loans, and for failing to file under the rarely enforced Foreign Agents Registration Act while working as a lobbyist. None of his crimes occurred in relation to his duties for the Trump campaign.
A New York State Judge ordered Manafort moved to Rikers at the request of New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. before his trial over additional fraud charges. A New York grand jury previously brought 16 counts against Manafort, “including residential mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and other charges,” Fox News reported.
Attorney Alan Dershowitz wrote in an op-ed that Manafort was being “treated differently and more harshly because of his past connections to President Trump.” Dershowitz said inmates in Manafort’s case aren’t moved “until the eve of their state trials.”
Dershowitz theorized at the time that Manafort was being treated this way to try to get him to cough up dirt on Trump that could be used to indict the president.
The New York Times now reports that Manafort is not going to Rikers yet, framing the story as an intervention from U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s top deputy Jeffrey A. Rosen. Rosen told Manhattan prosecutors he’d be watching where Manafort was held in New York. Federal prison officials reportedly stepped in on Monday to stop Manafort’s transfer to Rikers.
In attempting to make it seem like Manafort is now receiving special treatment thanks to Barr, the Times neglected to mention what Dershowitz said about an inmate not being transferred “until the eve of their state trials” and that Manafort is now getting the same treatment as other inmates in his situation.
Manafort has been moved from his federal prison in Pennsylvania to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan. He could remain at this prison or return to the prison in Pennsylvania while awaiting trial, the Times reported.
Todd Blanche, one of Manafort’s lawyers, told the Times that his client shouldn’t even be facing state charges for crimes already included in two federal convictions.
“You’ll find no example of someone like Mr. Manafort being prosecuted by the feds and then by the district attorney for exactly the same conduct,” he said.
DA Vance responded to a letter from Blanche saying state prosecutors had no position on whether Manafort was held at Rikers, but that keeping him in Pennsylvania wasn’t an option under the law.