Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., made waves Wednesday when she rushed to the defense of an unlikely felon — convicted fraudster Paul Manafort, an early campaign manager of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Ocasio-Cortez now says Manafort is being treated unfairly, and she’s demanding his release from solitary confinement.
The New York lawmaker claims that by keeping Manafort in maximum lockdown, the Trump administration is torturing him.
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Manafort is serving over seven years in prison after being convicted in August 2018 on a series of charges involving bank fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.
“Paul Manafort is being sent to solitary confinement in my district – Rikers Island,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Wednesday. “A prison sentence is not a license for [government] torture and human rights violations. That‘s what solitary confinement is. Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary.”
Paul Manafort is being sent to solitary confinement in my district – Rikers Island.
A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations. That‘s what solitary confinement is.
Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary. https://t.co/9rERLDSzrD
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 5, 2019
That’s not necessarily true, Politico reported.
According to sources, Manafort and his lawyers may have actually requested protective custody.
“Manafort got special arrangements away from the general prison population because of his high-profile status,” legal experts reportedly told Politico. “At his first jail in Warsaw, Va., Manafort told friends he was being treated like a ‘VIP’ and federal prosecutors explained in court briefs that the GOP operative had a private cell with a bathroom and shower, a personal telephone and access to work space to meet with his lawyers.”
“Manafort’s situation changed in July 2018 when he was moved to Alexandria, Va., in a transfer that his own attorneys had requested to help them be closer to their client as they prepared for his first trial,” Politico reported. His transfer to Rikers was requested by prosecutors as part of a separate, ongoing criminal trial.
High-profile inmates like Manafort are usually kept separate from the general population and instead are detained in protective custody.
Solitary confinement isn’t the same as protective custody, experts pointed out. Manafort will be kept in isolation for his own safety, not as punishment — and it’s possible his lawyers requested the transfer from the general population for their client.
Manafort has been transferred to Rikers to face a 16-count indictment, in which Manafort is accused of giving false information on mortgage loan applications.
The Horn editorial team