A federal judge ordered longtime former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be released from prison after he was accused of violating the terms of his release and taken back into custody earlier this month, The New York Times reports.
Cohen was out on furlough due to the coronavirus and ordered to remain at home. He went to a courthouse to sign routine paperwork where he was asked to sign a document that would have prohibited him from publishing a book during the remainder of his sentence.
Cohen refused to sign and was taken back to prison.
The Justice Department denied that his imprisonment was linked to the book.
“Any assertion that the decision to remand Michael Cohen to prison was a retaliatory action is patently false,” Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long said.
Judge says it was retaliatory:
“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory,” Judge Alvin Hellerstein said on Thursday. “And it’s retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and with others.”
Hellerstein, a Clinton appointee, excoriated the DOJ over the document barring Cohen from releasing a book.
“In 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at the terms and conditions of supervised release,” he said, “I have never seen such a clause.”
Cohen says admin targeted him over Trump book:
Cohen filed a lawsuit over the detention, alleging that the administration was targeting him because he was planning to write a tell-all book about Trump.
The book, his lawsuit said, would provide his “firsthand experiences with Mr. Trump” and offer “graphic details about the president’s behavior behind closed doors.”
“The narrative,” the lawsuit says, “describes pointedly certain anti-Semitic remarks against prominent Jewish people and virulently racist remarks against such Black leaders as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.”