‘Not Rocket Science’ to Hold Manafort Outside Solitary Confinement, Mukasey Says
'There are people who are convicted of dealing in child pornography who are out and about,' says former attorney general
It’s “not rocket science” for Paul Manafort to be held “in a setting outside a prison” instead of the solitary confinement he’s now in while awaiting his trial, in two weeks. That’s according to former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who appeared Tuesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
“It is not rocket science to have somebody in a detention situation outside a prison, home detention, and similar kinds of detention, in which he can’t get access to a computer or to a telephone,” Mukasey (pictured above left) told host Laura Ingraham, noting that Manafort has yet to be convicted of a crime.
“There are people who are convicted of dealing in child pornography who are out and about, who get restrictions on their access to computers and so on. This can be done. It is not rocket science,” Mukasey continued. “And it would not be rocket science to put Paul Manafort in a setting outside a prison in which his access to a telephone may be restricted, monitored and so on. This is unnecessary.”
Manafort, who was President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman from March to August of 2016, has become a focal point for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia.
Although Manafort will stand trial in two weeks on multiple bank-fraud charges predating his tenure with the Trump campaign and lying to federal investigators, he is not on trial for collusion-related crimes.
Manafort currently is being held in solitary confinement for 23 out of 24 hours per day in the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, two hours outside Washington, D.C. Manafort and his lawyers have implored judges for weeks to relocate him to a closer prison to facilitate preparations for his trial.
Although Judge T.S. Ellis agreed Tuesday to move Manafort to a detention facility in Alexandria, Virginia, Manafort ultimately rejected the relocation because his trial is now just two weeks away.
“In light of Mr. Manafort’s continuing detention and after further reflection, issues of distance and inconvenience must yield to concerns about his safety, and more importantly, the challenges he will face in adjusting to a new place of confinement and the changing circumstances of detention two weeks before trial,” Manafort’s lawyers wrote to Ellis Tuesday.
Manafort’s bail was revoked and he was placed in solitary confinement after it came to light that he contacted potential witnesses. The contact added obstruction of justice charges to his bank fraud and lobbying charges.
“As someone who is a former white-collar criminal defense attorney myself, I cannot think of an occasion on which one of my clients was even close to being put in solitary confinement two weeks before fairly complex litigation and preparing for this,” Laura Ingraham noted.
“Where’s the [American Civil Liberties Union]? I mean, the ACLU has issued the most condemnatory statements about solitary confinement, that it’s essentially its own type of cruel and unusual punishment,” Ingraham added. “A lot of the people on the Left want to get rid of it altogether. But you don’t hear a peep from them on this case.”
Mukasey insisted it “is totally unnecessary” for Manafort to remain in solitary confinement while awaiting his three-week trial, which begins on July 25.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy (pictured above right) told Ingraham “It’s very highly unusual in a white-collar case like this to detain somebody prior to trial,” as has happened to Manafort.
“They say he was tampering with witnesses. They persuaded the district court that that was the case,” said McCarthy, a National Review contributor and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“The problem is, once you have somebody who’s high profile like him — if a judge actually does put him in pretrial, that is put him in custody rather than allow him to be out on bail, it’s very hard for him to be in [the] general population. So it’s almost a given that if you find that he has to be detained, he’s going to be detained in these very arduous conditions.”