Paul Manafort released from prison to home confinement amid coronavirus concerns

Paul Manafort, the imprisoned former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, was released to home confinement for the remainder of his sentence Wednesday amid concerns he could contract coronavirus in federal prison, his attorney Todd Blanche confirmed to NBC News.

Manafort’s release follows a request from his attorneys to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that he be allowed to leave the prison due to underlying health concerns and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manafort, 71, met all the criteria for home confinement except for the length of sentence served, but because of his age and vulnerability due to health issues, the Bureau of Prisons used its discretion to move him home, a person familiar with the situation said.

Senior officials at the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., did not play a role in the decision to release Manafort, the source said.

The Bureau of Prisons says there are no known cases of coronavirus at the Loretto prison. So far about 2,500 inmates have been released to home confinement since Attorney General Barr’s March 26 memo instructing Bureau of Prisons to prioritize home confinement because of the pandemic.

Manafort had been staying at Federal Correctional Institution Loretto, Pennsylvania, since he was sentenced in March of last year to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

The veteran GOP operative was hospitalized in December while in prison, and his lawyer had previously said he suffered from severe gout.

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Manafort was charged by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office with tax evasion and violating federal lobbying laws, among other crimes, after concealing millions he earned representing pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine.

He was convicted after a jury trial in Alexandria, Virginia, and pleaded guilty to related charges in a separate case in Washington, D.C.

Michael Kosnar contributed.