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'Highly Unusual': DOJ Steps in to Stop Manafort's Move to Rikers

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

In what media are terming an "unusual" and "unprecedented" move, the Department of Justice has intervened to stop authorities from transferring Paul Manafort to New York's controversial Rikers Island penitentiary. The former Donald Trump campaign manager will remain in a minimum security prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania for his money laundering crimes.

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Had Manafort transferred to Rikers, he was expected to be kept in isolation for his own protection, according to officials. But a letter from a top DOJ official changed that.

But last week, Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort’s case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr’s new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York. 

And then, on Monday, federal prison officials weighed in, telling the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Mr. Manafort, 70, would not be going to Rikers. (New York Times)

It is unprecedented, analysts say.

Even progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), by no means a Manafort fan, protested his move to Rikers. She erupted at Manafort's supposedly light sentencing last year and suggested it was an injustice, but when she heard he was to be moved to Rikers, and in solitary at that, she became somewhat sympathetic toward the defendant.

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Manafort was arrested on money laundering and tax fraud charges, making false statements about being a foreign agent, and more federal crimes last year that were exposed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian collusion investigation. Following two sentencing hearings - one in Alexandria, VA and the other in Washington, D.C. - judges gave Manafort a total of seven and a half years behind bars.

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