A federal judge in New York ordered Michael Cohen to be release from prison by 2 p.m. Friday after finding that the government retaliated against him for writing a tell-all book about Donald Trump.
“The purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory, and it’s retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media,” U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said at a hearing Thursday. “In 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at terms and conditions of supervised release, I’ve never seen such a clause.”
But, Cohen’s release comes with some conditions, he must seek approval for any possible employment, electronic surveillance and a requirement that family members would have to run his errands.
Michael Cohen was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. He admitted to facilitating hush-money payments to adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, and Playboy model, Karen McDougal—both women alleged past affairs with Donald Trump. In May, he was released from prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He was rearrested on July 9 after failing to reach an agreement with the court in the conditions of his home confinement, which included never engaging with the media through any medium, including books. This would essentially prevent Cohen from releasing his book before the November elections as he had planned.
He sued the Bill Barr led Department of Justice on Monday, alleging that he was taken back into custody to block the release of his book.
Even though Judge Hellerstein ruled in Cohen’s favor, he gave Cohen’s lawyers and prosecutors a week to negotiate the terms of his contact with the media.
Photo: John Minchillo/AP