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Beware, ladies and gentlemen, for he’s out of jail again.
Disgraced former Trump attorney Michael Cohen has been ordered to be released from prison again — this time per a ruling by a federal judge appointed to the courts 22 years ago by then-President Bill Clinton.
What makes Cohen’s latest release compelling is the reasoning behind it. After he was initially released by the Department of Justice in late May as part of a program to reduce the spread of coronavirus among federal inmates, he announced in early July that he’d be releasing a book in September about his experiences working for Trump.
Favorable ruling yesterday by the Court as I am close to completion of my book…https://t.co/lprtpkdl7K
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) July 2, 2020
…anticipated release date will be late September.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) July 2, 2020
During a probation meeting exactly one week later, federal officials reportedly demanded he sign a document “that would have barred him from speaking to reporters or publishing a book during the rest of his sentence,” according to The New York Times.
Upon refusing to sign the document, Cohen was taken back into custody.
“In a statement, the federal Bureau of Prisons said that Mr. Cohen had been returned to jail after he ‘refused the conditions of his home confinement,'” the Times reported.
“As a federal inmate, the bureau said in a separate statement, Mr. Cohen must comply with bureau policies, including requirements that he consent to electronic monitoring and obtain approval for any media interviews.”
In response, the disgraced attorney hired the American Civil Liberties Union to file suit and accuse the federal government of violating his First Amendment rights.
On Wednesday, government officials submitted a filing pushing back on the allegation by accusing Cohen of having acted “antagonistic” during his probation meeting and claiming his probation officer had been unaware of his upcoming book.
“The home confinement agreement Cohen was asked to sign, which included a gag order, was drafted by a probation officer ‘who had no knowledge that [Cohen] was writing a book,’ and the draft was based on a sample he obtained from a colleague,” The Washington Post reported Wednesday, quoting from the filing.
“Cohen, 53, was arrested two weeks ago ‘because he was antagonistic during a meeting with probation officers at which he was supposed to sign the agreement that would have allowed him to complete the remaining portion of his criminal sentence in home confinement.'”
During the first hearing on the matter this Thursday, however, Clinton appointee Judge Alvin Hellerstein took Cohen’s side and ordered he be released on the basis that his re-incarceration earlier this month had been made in “retaliation” for his book.
“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory. And it’s retaliation 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,” he reportedly said.
“How can I take any other inference than that it’s retaliatory? I’ve never seen such a clause in 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at terms of supervised release. Why would the Bureau of Prisons ask for something like this … unless there was a retaliatory purpose?” he reportedly added.
“Cohen, who has been in quarantine in the prison in Otisville, N.Y., since his arrival there, will be released by 2 p.m. after being tested for the coronavirus, and will be driven back to his home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side by his son,” NBC News confirmed.
🚨 BREAKING: Michael Cohen’s getting out of jail. “He should be released by 2pm to his son” tomorrow, the judge says, finding the purpose of throwing him back in jail was retaliation for writing a tell-all book about Trump.
— Greg Walters (@thegregwalters) July 23, 2020
The DOJ may conceivably file an appeal.
Cohen was originally jailed in May of 2019 after being sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud.
Because of his willingness to throw the president under the bus during his court case in a bid to have his sentence reduced, he’s become a folk hero to the left. In fact, during his sentencing hearing in December of 2018, he blamed all his crimes on the president, though he tried to play it off as if he wasn’t blaming Trump.
“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired. In fact, I now know that there is little to be admired,” he said.
“I want to be clear. I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today, and it was my own weakness, and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light. It is for these reasons I chose to participate in the illicit act of the president rather than to listen to my own inner voice which should have warned me that the campaign finance violations that I later pled guilty to were insidious.”
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