The coronavirus pandemic has created an unexpected twist for Democrats who were reveling in the trials and imprisonments of several associates of President Donald Trump.
His former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was released from prison on Wednesday to serve the rest of his sentence at home due to the pandemic, ending a tragic saga and disappointing Trump’s sworn enemies.
The ailing seventy-one-year-old committed white collar crimes but there was absolutely no justification for the level of abuse he had experienced.
He had been serving a sentence of more than seven years at the low-security LCI Loretto facility in central Pennsylvania. He was found guilty of tax fraud and conspiracy, sentenced in 2019 and was scheduled to be released in 2024.
He was one of several men of advanced age in the president’s orbit who were ensnared in the Robert Mueller III special counsel investigation. The baseless probe examined possible co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
Prosecutors turned over every stone to entrap and flip Trump associates into giving them dirt on the president, even though they knew there was no evidence of any collusion with Russia. In their quest for political retribution and power, Democrats have stopped at nothing to vanquish their reviled political opponents.
The probe spawned a vindictive web of indictments, jail sentences, subpoenas and repeated Congressional testimonies for numerous former campaign officials. Three, including Manafort, were sentenced to serve lengthy prison terms.
He had requested in mid-April to be released from prison early because of the pandemic. His lawyer, Kevin Downing, wrote a letter to officials noting that he was at “high risk” of contracting coronavirus due to his age and pre-existing conditions, including high blood pressure, liver disease and respiratory ailments.
There have been no COVID-19 cases recorded at FCI Loretto, but prison officials were concerned that the former monastery would be hit hard if there was an outbreak.
Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone was convicted on a seven-count indictment for lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing a congressional investigation. He is not expected to report for prison for a 40-month sentence until late May due to COVID-19 concerns.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to federal campaign finance violations regarding “hush money” payments to two women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
His lawyer, Lanny Davis, expressed his hope on Wednesday that his client would be released from a New York prison.
Seventy-three-year old conservative author and Stone associate Jerome Corsi, who Democrats labeled a right wing conspiracy theorist, was somehow able to dodge charges in the probe. Mueller’s investigators were trying to determine whether Corsi and Stone had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to release hacked material damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential effort, but he was never indicted.
He has, however, been ensnared in yet another probe. Washington Post investigative reporters Rosalind Helderman and Matt Zapotosky reported in April that, “Federal prosecutors are examining the communications of a New York family doctor whose work has been discussed on Fox News and who has been in touch with the White House to tout an anti-malarial as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, according to people contacted as part of the inquiry.”
“The examination of Vladimir ‘Zev’ Zelenko’s records began when an associate, conservative commentator Jerome Corsi, accidentally sent an email intended for Zelenko to another ‘Z’ name in his address book — federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who as a member of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team had spent months scrutinizing Corsi’s activities during the 2016 presidential election.
“During episodes of his daily podcast this week and in a YouTube video he posted late Thursday in response to questions from The Washington Post, Corsi said that Zelinsky responded to the unexpected email by reaching out to Corsi’s lawyer and requesting all of Corsi’s communications with Zelenko.”
Twitter trolls were gleefully posting lurid comments while vile protesters mocked Manafort last year as he entered New York’s state Supreme Court in a prison jumpsuit to plead not guilty to fraud charges. The limping Republican lobbyist looked grey and slovenly.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office had accused him of 16 felony counts, including residential mortgage fraud and falsifying business records.
Not only did the DA want to see Manafort trundle through another court case on similar charges for which he had already been sentenced in federal court — his demonic goal was to deny him a pardon. He knew the president would not have been able to pardon Manafort for state charges.
Dennis Prager wrote in an article for The Daily Signal last June, “Angry over the possibility that Manafort may be pardoned by President Trump, the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, charged Manafort with additional crimes based on state law. That way, if found guilty of state offenses, he cannot be pardoned by Trump, as the president’s power to pardon applies only to federal — not state — crimes.”
“Everyone knows this prosecution is politically motivated. Vance hates the president and wants to use solitary confinement in a hellhole with violent criminals to squeeze Manafort into testifying against the president.”
In June last year news broke that Manafort was being moved to Rikers Island, a dangerous prison associated with violent felons and killers. He had already spent months in solitary confinement while he was awaiting trial in Virginia on federal bank charges.
The news forced Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to defend Manafort in a tweet, a shocking break with Democrats who had been cheering while watching Trump officials’ rights being violated repeatedly.
“Paul Manafort is being sent to solitary confinement in my district — Rikers Island. 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,” she tweeted.
Civil Rights Attorney Alan Dershowitz, in an article for Fox News wrote, “Whatever the reason for the transfer, it seems like the selective application of the law for partisan purposes. The tactic of squeezing a potential witness by making his imprisonment unbearably harsh is generally reserved for mafiosos, terrorists and other violent criminals who may have evidence against their bosses.”
Scott Hechinger, a public defender in Brooklyn, also criticized the decision. “Rikers Island & Solitary Confinement are both tortures no one should be subjected to,” he tweeted that week. “By supporting solitary for Manafort, we support an immoral, barbaric, cruel & unusual practice. Torture w/ long lasting, debilitating mental health consequences. And solitary for one means solitary is available for all.”
The Justice Department was forced to step in and block the transfer over concerns for Manafort’s health and safety. He was instead transferred to a federal facility in Manhattan from the federal prison in Pennsylvania.
A judge dismissed the state charges last December, shutting down Vance’s stunt. Manafort was not in court for the hearing after suffering a medical issue.
The Democrats and their supporters have embraced the Machiavellian premise that the end justifies the means. The justice system is being hijacked as a tool to accomplish their mission, even if they have to bend and break the rules.
Our penal code was not written for the purpose of malicious, vengeful, politically-motivated attacks on opponents. Thanks to coronavirus, some measure of true justice might be served after all.