President Donald Trump’s one-time 2016 election campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released from prison to protect him from the coronavirus threat, his lawyer said Wednesday.
The longtime Republican political consultant, 71, was sentenced last year to seven and a half years in jail for tax crimes, bank fraud and conspiracy charges, mostly relating to his business dealings in Ukraine with Russia-allied politicians and tycoons.
He had been in a minimum security prison in Pennsylvania, where his lawyers said he suffered from high blood pressure and respiratory problems, making him more vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Mr. Manafort is at a significantly higher risk for serious illness or death,” they told the court last month.
He will be able to serve out the rest of his term at his home, currently in Alexandria, Virginia outside of Washington.
Manafort was one of 2,471 inmates from the federal prison system that have been released to home confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, out of a total of about 150,000 total federal prisoners.
There are another 2.1 million prisoners held in state-controlled penitentiaries.
Manafort was one of six former Trump campaign aides or advisors who were convicted or pleaded guilty in the investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion in the 2016 election.
Trump has expressed sympathy and support for Manafort, saying he was a victim of the Russia “witch hunt.”
Another of the six, Trump’s estranged former lawyer Michael Cohen, was denied release due to the coronavirus threat last month.
Cohen is serving a three year sentence after admitting paying hush money — in violation of campaign finance laws — to two women who said they had affairs with Trump, for tax fraud and for lying to Congress.
News reports say Cohen is planning to release a “tell-all” book about his years of work with Trump in the coming months. AFP