Harris, Jeffries question why Manafort, Cohen released while others remain in prison

Harris, Jeffries question why Manafort, Cohen released while others remain in prison
© Greg Nash

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden-Harris team unveils inauguration playlist Trump approval rating relatively unchanged in wake of Capitol rioting: NBC News poll Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) are pushing federal prisons officials to explain why  two associates of President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE were released into home confinement due to coronavirus fears while "tens of thousands of low-risk, vulnerable individuals are serving their time in highly infected prisons."

The two Democratic lawmakers sent a letter on Monday to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJustice Dept. blasts Mexico's decision to close probe of former defense minister Acting attorney general condemns Capitol riots, warns 'no tolerance' for violence at Biden inauguration Barr, White House counsel told Trump not to self-pardon: report MORE and Federal Bureau of Prisons director Michael Carvajal over their concern about the process for transferring individuals to home confinement.  

The lawmakers point to the case of Andrea Circle Bear, a 30-year-old woman who was the first female federal prisoner to die after getting the coronavirus. Circle Bear, who had been sentenced to two years for a drug charge, died weeks after delivering a baby via cesarean section. In another instance, a 67-year-old man who had advanced coronary artery disease had his release order rescinded because he had not served half of his sentence.  


At the same time, former Trump campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNo pardon for Trump Michael Cohen predicts people Trump pardoned may testify against him Roger Stone thanked Trump for pardon during exchange at West Palm Beach club MORE and former Trump lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenManhattan DA expands probe into Trump company to include family estate: report Michael Cohen interviewed by prosecutors about Trump's finances Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen foreword for impeachment book MORE were both moved from federal facilities to home confinement last month.

"These examples make clear that there are two systems of justice in our country—one for President Trump and his associates, and another for everyone else. These examples also heighten our concern about the politicization of the Department of Justice," Harris and Jeffries wrote in the letter on Monday.  

The two lawmakers want to know if anyone at the White House asked or suggested that Manafort and Cohen be transferred to home confinement, and a list of any individuals involved with the decision.  

The letter comes a day before Carvajal will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Harris is a member, on "examining best practices" for detention during the coronavirus. 

The Bureau of Prisons has placed 3,544 inmates in home confinement since a March 26 memo from Barr gave them more leeway for transferring incarcerated individuals to home confinement due to the coronavirus. 

Harris and Jeffries want to know details of the individuals recommended for home confinement since Barr's March memo, including a breakdown by age, gender, race and what they were convicted of. They are asking for similar details on the individuals who have requested home confinement, and what steps are being taken to ensure that the guidelines being used are the same across federal prisons.