Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen forwarded a demand from Paul Manafort’s attorney to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., calling for the former Trump campaign chairman to stay in federal custody while awaiting trial on state fraud charges, according to correspondence obtained by TPM.
In one letter to Vance dated June 11, Rosen referenced a request Manafort attorney Todd Blanche made to Vance. Blanche claimed in the May 17 missive that the New York state charges were “politics” and that Manafort’s then-impending incarceration on New York City’s infamous Rikers Island would damage his health.
“Before rendering a decision on this matter, the Department would like to know if your office has a response to the May 17 letter or would otherwise like to comment,” Rosen wrote to Vance.
Vance replied in a June 14 letter to Rosen that his office was only concerned with Manafort’s availability for court proceedings, while calling Blanche’s accusations “gratuitous.”
Blanche asked DAG Rosen to ensure that Manafort avoid Rikers Island on the DOJ official’s first full day at work — he had been confirmed by the Senate on May 16. The letters fill out other elements of the timeline as well. Manafort, who has been in federal prison in Pennsylvania since April 23, entered into a March 21 agreement with Vance’s office under which the New York DA agreed to delay Manafort’s New York arraignment until the political operative arrived in federal prison.
Manafort went to federal prison in Pennsylvania on April 23. Vance’s office requested that he be moved to New York on May 3.
A senior Justice Department official had cited “health and personal safety” as the reason for the decision.
“The Department requested the views of New York prosecutors, who did not object to Mr. Manafort’s attorneys’ proposal,” the official said. “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.”
Manafort has suffered from gout, and began to appear in court in a wheelchair after a federal judge ordered him imprisoned. In D.C. federal court proceedings in January, transcripts show his attorneys claiming that the 70-year old Republican operative also faced depression and anxiety since being incarcerated in June 2018.
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