Paul Manafort’s attorney Todd Blanche in May wrote a letter to federal prison warden Vicky Moser arguing that the former Trump campaign chairman should be permitted to stay in federal custody while awaiting trial on state fraud charges. But Blanche’s letter, which laid out the reasons he believed his client should not be moved, appeared to include a glaring inaccuracy, namely the claim that Manafort has endured two federal trials.
Manafort's new lawyer for state case argues here that his client 'endured two federal trials.' Strange, I missed one and was paying pretty close attention. Distinctions here important with all the double jeopardy talk. https://t.co/k7DkxjVGKG
— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) June 18, 2019
“Mr. Manafort is seventy years old, and in the past year endured two federal trials and two federal sentencing proceedings, in addition to the unusually high level of publicity surrounding his federal cases,” Blanche said in the letter.
Manafort did experience a federal trial in the Eastern District of Virginia in August 2018, where he was found guilty of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to disclose a foreign bank account. Manafort was then scheduled to be tried on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States in Washington, D.C. for failing to register as a foreign agent, money laundering, witness tampering, and making false statements in September 2018.
Manafort, however, agreed to plead guilty in advance of that, therefore never undergoing a second trial by jury. He also agreed to a cooperation agreement that the government would later say he breached by lying. Manafort was sentenced in this case, meaning he amassed a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison.
Blanche’s letter also said his client has suffered “health challenges” that would “best be addressed” by remaining at the Loretto Federal Correctional Institution, adding that, if transferred to New York, Manafort would likely be kept in solitary confinement at Rikers Island, a city jail that is “unsecure, unsanitary and dangerous.”
After the letter was forwarded to New York District Attorney Cy Vance’s office, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Conroy responded to a number of Blanche’s other claims.
“The central assertion in the Blanche Letter is that our office, in connection with our May 7 application, is somehow ‘insisting that Mr. Manafort remain on Rikers Island, likely in solitary confinement, pending trial, despite the absence of any legitimate need for him to do so’. Nothing could be further from the truth,” wrote Conroy.
“To be clear our request for temporary custody did not make any recommendation about where Mr. Manafort should be housed, or under what conditions, when he is transferred, ” he said. “[O]ur office takes no position on the question of where Mr. Manafort should be housed when he is in New York, whether it be on Rikers Island (as the Blanche Letter presumes), another city facility, or a local federal facility.”
Conroy would add that “our only concern is that Mr. Manafort be made available for arraignment and subsequent proceeding in a timely manner and, importantly, under circumstances that comport with the requirements of the [Interstate Agreement on Detainers].”
[image via Alexandria Detention Center]