Harris, Jeffries demand answers on Cohen, Manafort home confinement during coronavirus
Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Monday pressed Attorney General Bill Barr for answers on the decision to release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to home confinement amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Manafort and Cohen were both released from prison to home confinement due to the health risk in prison from COVID-19.
Barr, earlier this year, directed the Bureau of Prisons to prioritize home confinement for prisoners in low- and minimum-security facilities who pose no safety threat to the community and have a low likelihood of recidivism.
But Harris, D-Calif., and Jeffries, D-N.Y., penned a letter to Barr and BOP Director Michael Carvajal Monday requesting information on why former Trump associates were transferred, and thousands of other “low-risk” inmates are continuing to serve their sentences in prison.
“As President Trump’s associates are cleared for transfer, tens of thousands of low-risk, vulnerable individuals are serving their time in highly infected prisons,” they wrote.
Harris and Jeffries noted that there are hundreds of low-risk inmates in federal prisons across the country who have tested positive for COVID-19, detailing anecdotes of some who died due to the virus.
“These examples make clear that there are two systems of justice in our country—one for President Trump and his associates, and another for everyone else,” they wrote.
Harris and Jeffries went on to question whether the White House asked, suggested or approved Manafort or Cohen’s transfer to home confinement. They also asked for details on how many individuals have requested transfer to home confinement, and how many of those have been granted.
Cohen was released on furlough last month from Federal Correctional Institute Otisville. Cohen will have a monitoring device and will not be allowed to leave his New York City apartment.
Cohen, 53, had been serving his three-year sentence at the FCI Otisville after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress about Trump’s past dealings in Russia, among other charges. He started serving his sentence in May 2019 and was scheduled to be released in November 2021.
A source told Fox News that Cohen is likely to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement.
Meanwhile, Manafort, 70, was serving his sentence at FCI Loretto, a low-security federal prison in Loretto, Pa.
“Manafort met all the criteria except for length of sentence served but because of age and vulnerability of the inmate due to underlying health issues, BOP used its discretion to move him to home confinement,” a person familiar with the process told Fox News last month.
The criteria for consideration for home confinement typically includes having just 18 months left in a sentence.
In March 2019, Manafort was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to foreign lobbying and witness tampering, as well as tax fraud and conspiracy.
Meanwhile, Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rose to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against Trump, was freed temporarily from a federal jail in New York and is said to have been staying at a friend’s house in Los Angeles.