Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s legal troubles didn’t end when he was convicted on bank and tax fraud charges in 2018. He’s facing state-level mortgage fraud charges, and because his case is going to trial in New York City, he needed to be transferred between penitentiaries. That is a routine matter and regularly results in the defendant’s transfer to a state penitentiary, here Rikers Island.

But in this case, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen intervened, forwarding to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. a letter from Manafort’s attorney suggesting that it would not be safe for Manafort to be held on Rikers Island. The result? Manafort will be housed at a federal penitentiary rather than going to Rikers. Should we really care?

Yes we should. If the decision was motivated by politics — and it is very hard to formulate a plausible alternative explanation — it’s an injustice in itself and an indication of rotten goings-on at the Justice Department.

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