Someone at the Justice Department is paying very close attention to the custody of convicted criminal Paul Manafort—so close, in fact, that a top official at the department intervened in his case, according to the New York Times.
The No. 2 at the department appears to have decided that Rikers Island might be a little too rough-and-tumble for Manafort. Jeffrey Rosen, the recently confirmed top deputy for Attorney General William Barr had written New York State prosecutors to track where they planned to hold Manafort as he awaited trial for state charges.
Following Rosen’s inquiry, federal prison officials on Monday reportedly informed the Manhattan District Attorney that instead of going to Rikers, Manafort would be held either at a federal prison in Manhattan or one in Pennsylvania where he is currently serving out his seven-plus year sentence.
The Justice Department didn’t appear to provide any explanation for the intervention other than to say that the action was “appropriate,” in the wording of the Times. “Most federal inmates facing state charges are held on Rikers Island,” added the Times.
At least one former U.S. Attorney noted what an aberration Rosen’s intervention represented. “Calling this highly unusual doesn’t even begin to capture how strange it is for the no. 2 official at DOJ to intervene in a state custody issue,” tweeted Joyce Vance.
Former Justice Department spokesperson Matt Miller also noted how pathetic it was that Rosen intervened at all. “Lots of inmates complain about where they’re held—almost none get the Deputy AG’s attention,” Miller tweeted. “Just smacks of pure favoritism.” Sure does.
Trump now has two personal attorneys heading the Justice Department doing pet projects for him.