President Trump’s ex-lawyer will return to house arrest after a judge ruled he was returned to prison in retaliation for writing a revealing book.
Michael Cohen was released in May over Covid-19 concerns following a three-year sentence on charges including violations of Trump campaign funding.
Authorities this month said Cohen resisted the conditions of his detention.
Cohen argued his re-arrest was a retaliatory measure for his intention to publish a book critical of Donald Trump.
He said probation officers asked him to sign a release agreement that would prohibit him from speaking to or through any media. When he questioned this order, he was returned to detention.
US Judge Alvin Hellerstein delivered the decision during a tele-hearing Thursday.
He said that Cohen’s return to prison was “retaliation for his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and discuss whatever he wanted about the book or whatever.” he wanted on social networks and with others ”.
The Manhattan judge added that in 21 years on the bench, he had never seen such a provision for a prisoner. “How can I tell it was retaliation?”
Cohen was arrested again on July 9 – days after he tweeted he was “close to finishing” his revealing book about the president. The book details Mr. Trump’s alleged racist comments.
This week, Cohen sued US Attorney General William Barr and the director of the prison office over the so-called “gag order.”
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The lawsuit, filed by Cohen’s attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said Cohen’s re-incarceration following the order violated his constitutional right to free speech.
According to court documents, Cohen’s book would provide “graphic and unflattering details of the president’s behavior behind closed doors,” including descriptions of his “ostensibly anti-Semitic and virulently racist remarks” against former President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.
The White House has yet to comment on these allegations.
Prosecutors argued on Wednesday that Cohen had been combative during the discussion and challenged nearly every aspect of the home containment deal, US media reported.
The judge ordered prosecutors and Cohen to renegotiate his conditions of detention within a week.
Cohen temporarily accepted the current detention order so he could return home immediately, his lawyer said, according to Reuters.
The 53-year-old will be released at his home this afternoon local time from Otisville Federal Prison following a Covid-19 test.
“Today’s important decision recognizes that individuals retain their right to speak out even while in prison,” said ACLU lawyer Vera Eidelman.
Cohen served one year of his three-year sentence.
The former fixer admitted to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow and campaigning for financial breaches for his role in making silent payments to women alleging affairs with Mr. Trump . He also admitted other charges of tax and bank fraud unrelated to the president.
The Justice Department earlier declined to comment on the matter.