Two Democratic lawmakers on Monday called for federal prison officials to explain why two of President Trump’s former associates have been released into home confinement amid the coronavirus crisis, while “low-risk, vulnerable individuals” remain in prison.
Sens. Kamala D. Harris of California and Hakeem Jeffries of New York sent a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr and Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal saying they are concerned Trump associates are receiving favorable treatment.
They pointed to the cases of Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, who had been serving a sentence for financial fraud, and Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.
Both men were released to thin the prison population and stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The lawmakers cite the case of Andrea Circle Bear, who was the first federal prisoner to die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. She was sentenced to two years on a drug charge and died weeks after delivering a baby via cesarean section.
In another case, a 67-year-old man with coronary artery disease was denied home confinement because he had not served half of his sentence.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote.
Ms. Harris and Mr. Jefferies want to know if the White House asked to have Manafort or Cohen transferred to home confinement and a list of individuals involved in those decisions.
The lawmakers asked Mr. Barr to provide details on how the Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons determine who is picked for home confinement.