‘Not a Remotely Normal Call’: Trump DOJ Spares Manafort from Stay at Notorious Prison

Paul Manafort mugshot

It looked like former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was headed to the notorious Rikers Island “during the pendency of his state proceedings” in Manhattan, but President Donald Trump‘s Department of Justice (DOJ) is putting a stop to that.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr‘s Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen sent a letter on Monday to Manhattan prosecutors, informing them that the DOJ was monitoring the situation. A DOJ official told Reuters on Tuesday why they are concerned.

“In light of New York’s position, and Mr. Manafort’s unique health and safety needs, the department determined to err on the side of caution by keeping Mr. Manafort in federal custody during the pendency of his state proceedings,” the anonymous individual “familiar with the matter” said. “This arrangement will not have any impact on his state proceedings.”

According to this official, Manhattan prosecutors are not objecting to the move. Manafort, records show, was being held at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center as of Tuesday.

The reaction from former federal prosecutors to the news was swift, with one saying this was “not a normal call” and another calling it “perhaps entirely unprecedented.”

A New York State judge previously ordered that Manafort–twice convicted and serving out the beginnings of 7-plus years worth of federal prison time–be transferred to Rikers Island at the request of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

You may remember that after Manafort was convicted in Washington, D.C. back in March, Vance indicted Manafort on state charges, including: three counts of residential mortgage fraud in the first degree; one count of attempted first-degree residential mortgage fraud; three counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree; eight counts of falsifying business records in the first degree; and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree.

The move was seen as a back-up plan in the event that President Trump decided to pardon Manafort (presidential pardon power does not extend to state crimes). Although concerns have been raised about double jeopardy, a Monday U.S. Supreme Court decision appears to have resolved the issue.

[Image via Alexandria Detention Center]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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