The US government on Thursday abandoned its efforts to silence President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, saying it would no longer demand that Michael Cohen not speak to the media in the weeks leading up to the publication of his book critical of his former boss.
An agreement between government attorneys and Cohen’s attorney Danya Perry lifting the media ban that had prevented Cohen from speaking publicly was awaiting a federal judge’s signature.
Cohen is ending the last two years of a three-year house sentence after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges and lying to Congress.
He was released from jail in May amid coronavirus fears in US prisons, only to be fired earlier this month after he said he planned to publish a book critical of the president. He said in court documents that his book, titled Disloyal: The True Story of Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer for President Donald J. Trump, would be released ahead of the November election.
The government wants Judge Hellerstein to clarify what he meant by ordering the “release” of Michael Cohen, who was supposed to be transferred from prison to house arrest.
The revised conditions no longer have a gag order.
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Cohen, 53, had sued federal prison officials and US Attorney General William Barr, claiming he was sent back to prison because of the book. US Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein last week ordered his release, saying the government’s action amounted to retaliation and a violation of his First Amendment rights.
Probation officials told Hellerstein in court documents that Cohen was returned to jail because he refused to sign a form forbidding him from publishing the book or communicating with the media or the public.
The Bureau of Prisons said any claim that Cohen’s return to custody “was retaliatory action is patently false.”
He was released at home on Friday after being held behind bars since July 9.
Cohen’s book is in part anticipated for what he might disclose about the circumstances that led him to plead guilty to campaign finance charges and blame Trump for ordering him to commit the crimes.
The accusations stemmed from her efforts to arrange payments in the 2016 presidential race to prevent adult film actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal from making public statements about extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the business.
In a written statement, Cohen said his book “will provide graphic and unflattering details of the president’s behavior behind closed doors.”