‘Good to be a criminal who is friends with the president’: Manafort early prison release draws outrage – ‘doesn’t qualify’
Donald Trump, Paul Manafort Trump campaign manager and Ivanka Trump during the sound checks on stage in the Quicken Arena for the Republican National Convention. (mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com)

"Released to home confinement amid growing outbreak of white privilege"

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on Wednesday released convicted felon Paul Manafort to home confinement, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. But many online quickly expressed outrage upon learning the President's former campaign chairman who has ties to Russia is housed in a prison that has no coronavirus cases.

Under Attorney General Bill Barr federal prisons have slowly been releasing prisoners from jail to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but certain conditions must be met. Prisoners have to have served at least half their sentence, or served at least one-quarter of their sentence and have less than 18 months remaining.

Manafort meets none of those requirements.

"Manafort, 71, has been serving out his more than seven-year sentence for charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in a federal correctional institution in central Pennsylvania," ABC News reports. "He was found guilty of tax fraud and conspiracy and was sentenced by a federal judge in March 2019. He was slated to be released from prison November 4, 2024. The charges stemmed from his work related to Ukraine between 2006 and 2015."

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now an MSNBC contributor and a University of Alabama law professor, says Manafort simply doesn't qualify.

"This raises real fairness concerns. Manafort doesn’t qualify for compassionate release," Vance says on Twitter. "Did he get special treatment ahead of others who do? People in facilities with outbreaks or closer to the end of their sentence? Did Trump’s friend get preferential treatment under the guise of appropriate releases to protect BOP inmates?

She notes that former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen, "much closer to the end of his sentence, was denied release after news he would be was made public."

Some are suggesting Manafort's release proves Trump intervened in keeping Cohen in jail.

Last year CNN reported "Special counsel Robert Mueller believes that Paul Manafort was sharing polling data and discussing Russian-Ukrainian policy with his close Russian-intelligence-linked associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, while he led the Trump presidential campaign, according to parts of a court filing that were meant to be redacted by Manafort's legal team Tuesday but were released publicly."

Outrage over what many see as unwarranted preferential treatment was widespread.

Some, perhaps mockingly, wondered if Manafort might get his old job back, working for the Trump campaign, given the President is reportedly considering re-hiring his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Here's what some others are saying: