JUNE 18, 2019
Manhattan prosecutors cave in on Manafort Rikers scheme after DoJ note
Maybe we really do have a Department of Justice that’s serious about reforming itself. Attorney General William Barr deserves applause for this one.
Here’s the latest news, spotted on Conservative Treehouse:
An interesting and moderately positive development in the ongoing fiasco surrounding the prosecution of Paul Manafort. According to the New York Times, Attorney General William Barr’s top deputy, Jeffrey Rosen, sent a letter to New York state prosecutors saying Main Justice was monitoring the planned transfer of Mr. Manafort.
Following the DOJ letter, the decision to transfer Manafort to Rikers Island was reversed.
Now, Manafort is not a guy anyone needs to feel much sympathy for for being in a federal prison, given that he committed crimes on his tax reportage that most of us would never think of doing.
But the Deep State has shown itself to be far, far more vile than Manafort ever was. The Deep-Staters’ move to ship Manafort to Rikers was one of literally trying to torture him or even kill him by using the appalling conditions on Rikers Island as leverage to force him to cooperate with them on Getting Trump. They didn’t need to move him there; they just wanted to. Made no difference to them if he died or not. These things don’t bother torturers. More to the point, they had an agenda, which even a federal judge pointed out for them.
As I noted earlier:
Manafort was convicted earlier and is doing time in Pennsylvania for white collar crimes around taxable income and foreign agent registration. These are crimes few are ever prosecuted for, but they were real enough. Now he’s a wedge player in a new and very dirty deep-state political game. The Manhattan district attorney’s office is throwing the elderly, now wheelchair-bound former campaign manager into Rikers Island prison, not because of any Rikers Island-worthy thuggery he could have done, but because they want to pressure him to cooperate with them to deliver Trump’s head on a platter to them.
It’s unprecedented. Attorney Alan Dershowitz is horrified. Even the Daily Beast is horrified. [Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez is not saying something out of left field this time [as she blasted the decision], and she has allies.
The Treehouse cites a New York Times piece that frames the matter as a pearl-clutching issue, writing that the DOJ letter “surprised” Manhattan’s prosecutors.
The former Justice Department officials and current state prosecutors, who regularly handled the transfer of federal inmates to state custody, said they were surprised that the second-highest official in the Justice Department would take an interest in the case. The decision is usually made by the warden at the prison where the inmate is being held.
Justice Department officials were unable to say who made the decision in Mr. Manafort’s case; the Bureau of Prisons, which is part of the Justice Department, did not respond to a request for comment.
Like maybe they were “surprised” because it wasn’t something that was supposed to be done? Why are would-be torturers’ “feelings” about such a matter so very important to the story anyway? But the DoJ’s letter was hardly surprising, or strange, or special treatment, as the narrative sequence started by the Times might go. What is truly surprising is the Manhattan prosecutorial move to throw Manafort on Rikers at all, a move that was totally unnecessary, totally unprecedented, and something that horrified even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted multiple protests about it and then bit back at lefties who criticized her. Rikers, remember, is a blue-city hole so bad that it’s set to be demolished for human rights violations. When you have Ocasio-Cortez siding with Manafort over the Manhattan prosecutor’s office, you know something’s gone very wrong.
So now we have the Number Two at Barr’s Justice Department writing them a courtesy letter, letting them know that the DoJ is watching, and suddenly, the would-be torturers pull back — pretty much the way a bully does when confronted by a muscle man or an authority figure with a bigger gun.
The Times noted that it couldn’t confirm that the letter was the reason for the decision not to put Manafort at Rikers. It’s possible that the Rikers officials themselves didn’t want him — imagine the resources it would take for them to put Manafort in solitary “for his own protection” and make sure he didn’t die. After he did, the human rights violations would flow, they’d pay for them, and the bad publicity for the jail would get around even more than it already has.
But it’s quite possible the Manhattan prosecutors don’t have all the cards. If the DoJ could scare them into acting with decency, there must be something they are very afraid of, something they are willing to give up the idea of putting Manafort in Rikers for. Maybe they aren’t as powerful as they think they are. Maybe accountability can come to their office, too. One can only hope it is something big, and they recognize that Barr is not afraid to deploy it on them.