President Trump’s disgraced former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been released from prison and will serve the rest of his sentence at home to lessen the risk of him succumbing to the novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.
Manafort has been serving out his seven-and-a-half year sentence at FCI Loretto in central Pennsylvania on charges related to Special Sounsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He was found guilty of tax fraud and conspiracy and was sentenced in March 2019. He wasn’t due to be released from prison until November 2024.
At the age of 71, Manafort is considered to be at particular risk from the disease, which hits harder among older people. His lawyer, Kevin Downing, requested Manafort’s early release from prison due to coronavirus-related health fears last month, saying that he’d been suffering health problems including high blood pressure, liver disease, and respiratory issues for years.
“Mr. Manafort is at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 at FCI Loretto due to his age and pre-existing health conditions, and it is imperative that Mr. Manafort be transferred to home confinement immediately in order to minimize the likelihood of Mr. Manafort contracting or spreading the potentially fatal disease,” Downing wrote.
In December, Manafort was hospitalized following a cardiac event.
ABC News reports that he was released from prison to head home early Wednesday morning. CBS News stated that Manafort was met by his wife and another family member on his release, and NBC News also confirmed the release with an unnamed source.
There are no reported cases of coronavirus at FCI Loretto, but Manafort’s lawyers had previously argued that the “growing number of cases in Pennsylvania” meant it was “only a matter of time before the infection spreads to staff and inmates.” The attorneys said last month that high-risk inmates, such as their client, had to be removed from the prison before the virus arrived.
Attorney General William Barr previously told the Bureau of Prisons that it should be more willing to grant home confinement to older inmates with underlying conditions, such as Manafort, as a way to stop the spread of the virus inside the nation’s prisons.
The latest figures showed that, across the country, 2,818 federal inmates and 262 BOP staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 at federal prisons. Fifty inmates have died.
Late Tuesday night, a federal judge ordered a prison in Connecticut to speed up its process for releasing at-risk inmates, warning that officials’ “foot-dragging” violated inmates’ constitutional right not to be forced to suffer cruel and unusual punishment.
A BOP spokeswoman told the Associated Press that 2,400 inmates have been moved to home confinement since the end of March and and more than 1,200 others are set to be released.
Manafort is one of several high-profile inmates to be granted early release. Michael Avenatti, the attorney known for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump, has been granted temporary home confinement. Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, will be released to home confinement at the end of May, according to CBS News.
Cohen had been told he was to be released from an Otisville, New York, federal prison camp to home confinement last week—but that was delayed without explanation, according to his lawyers, despite the fact that there have been confirmed cases at the facility.