Michael Cohen will be released after federal judge ruled the government on Thursday had sent the president’s former personal lawyer back to prison earlier this month in retaliation for his plans to write an all-encompassing memoir about Trump.
“The purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from leave and house arrest to prison is retributive and retributive for his desire to exercise his first change rights to publish a book and discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and others, ”judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled during a telephone interview.
The judge referred to the first clause in Cohen’s proposed government probation agreement, which would limit his ability to make public statements, saying:“I’ve never seen such a clause in 21 years as a judge.”
Cohen, 53, was released on house arrest in May after being sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in 2018 after being found guilty of countless charges of tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations. He was remanded in custody on July 9 and has been in solitary confinement in federal prison in Otisville, New York since. He later sued Attorney General William Barr for being punished for publishing a book about President Trump.
Cohen is released by 2 p.m. on Friday after receiving a coronavirus test. Prosecutors and the former fixer have one week to negotiate the terms of his involvement with the media as part of his release.
“Just as you wouldn’t have a press conference from a prison cell, you couldn’t have a press conference from home,” Hellerstein said. “You can communicate, you can discuss, you can post on social media, but you cannot make a confinement a free person. You cannot make a person who is in prison or at home a completely free person. There should be a limit. “
However, the Justice Department defended its actions on Wednesday, saying it had not attempted to suppress Cohen’s free speech.
“The petitioner’s claim that he was not placed under house arrest on July 9, 2020 in retaliation for a book he plans to publish that is critical of the President of the United States is not supported by the evidence,” lawyer Audrey Strauss told the court.
Instead, evidence shows that the petitioner, who was released from prison on leave, was taken into custody on 9 July 2020 for being hostile to a meeting with probation officers where he would sign the agreement that would have allowed him complete the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. “
Cohen’s lawyer called the judge’s order a “victory for the first amendment.”
The ruling confirms “that the government cannot prevent Mr Cohen from publishing a critical book about the President as a condition of his release to house arrest,” said Danya Perry, who argued on behalf of Cohen at the hearing, said in a statement. “This principle transcends politics and we are pleased that the rule of law prevails.”