WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was released from prison on Wednesday and granted confinement in his home in Northern Virginia because of the coronavirus pandemic, said one of his lawyers, Todd Blanche.
Mr. Manafort had been in a minimum-security prison in Loretto, Pa., serving a sentence of seven and a half years for financial and lobbying violations related to his work for a corrupt Ukrainian politician.
Prisons and jails across the country have been hot spots for the spread of the virus, though there were no recorded cases among inmates or staff at the facility where Mr. Manafort was held.
Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons in April to determine which federal inmates could be safely released to home confinement. He directed the bureau to “give priority in implementing these new standards to the most vulnerable inmates and the most affected facilities.” More than 2,500 inmates have been released to home confinement because of the virus since late March, according to Bureau of Prisons data.
In mid-April, Mr. Manafort’s lawyers asked the bureau to release their client to home confinement. The lawyers said he was at high risk of contracting the virus because of his age, 71, and pre-existing health conditions. Also, he was hospitalized in February after contracting the flu and bronchitis.
A person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly about it said the Bureau of Prisons decided to release Mr. Manafort to home confinement because of his underlying health conditions, even though he did not meet a time-served threshold. The person said the bureau had the discretion to make these decisions.
Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, had also been told last month that he would be released to home confinement because of virus concerns. He had been expected to be home by May 1, but he remains in quarantine in a medium-security prison in Otisville, N.Y., said a person familiar with his situation. Another person familiar with Mr. Cohen’s incarceration said he would be eligible to be released to home confinement when he has served half of his sentence, which will be this month.
Mr. Cohen has been serving three years for violating campaign finance laws in part related to a scheme to pay hush money to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affairs and publicly criticized Mr. Cohen, who once said he would take a bullet for Mr. Trump.
Some inmates and staff at the Otisville prison have tested positive for the coronavirus and have since recovered, but it has not been as widespread there as it has been at other detention centers.
Mr. Trump has publicly praised Mr. Manafort. After Mr. Manafort was convicted, the president said his former campaign chairman “refused to ‘break’” under pressure from prosecutors, unlike Mr. Cohen.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “Such respect for a brave man!”
Last June, Mr. Manafort was to be transferred to the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City to await state mortgage fraud charges, as is typically done with most federal inmates in that position. But the Justice Department, which oversees the Bureau of Prisons, intervened to ensure that Mr. Manafort would not be moved from the low-security facility in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Manafort was indicted in New York as part of an effort by the Manhattan district attorney to ensure he would face time in prison, even if Mr. Trump pardoned him for his federal crimes. In December, a judge dismissed the state charges.
Sharon LaFraniere contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman and William K. Rashbaum from New York.