President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney is leaving prison — again.
Michael Cohen was first sent home in May — just a year into his three-year sentence for crimes including lying to Congress — amid concerns over COVID-19, but he was sent back to prison earlier this month due to disagreements over the terms of his home confinement. Now, however, the Associated Press reports that a judge has ordered Cohen’s re-release, ruling that his re-imprisonment was nothing more than a “retaliatory” measure by the Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons.
“I’ve never seen such a clause”
Cohen was sent back to prison not long after he was spotted out in public following his previous release to home confinement. But District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, a Bill Clinton appointee, didn’t seem to take that into account.
As part of Cohen’s home confinement, the Bureau of Prisons hoped to “severely” restrict his “public communications,” according to the Associated Press.
With that in mind, Judge Hellerstein argued that the move to put Cohen back behind bars must have come because of the former lawyer’s plans to release a tell-all book about Trump — before November’s election.
“How can I take any other inference than that it’s retaliatory?” Hellerstein stated, according to the AP.
He went on: “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?”
BOP pushes back
The Bureau of Prisons, for its part, was very quick to push back on the assertion that it has allowed politics to come into play on this issue, as Fox News reported. The bureau said Cohen was only taken back to prison because he was nearly impossible to deal with while deciding on the terms of his home confinement and shunned mandated restrictions.
“During this process, Mr. Cohen refused to agree to the terms of the program, specifically electronic monitoring,” the bureau said, according to the AP. “In addition, he was argumentative, was attempting to dictate the conditions of his monitoring, including conditions relating to self-employment, access to media, use of social media and other accountability measures.”
Even so, the judge ruled against Cohen’s continued imprisonment, and ordered him to be set free by Friday afternoon.
Cohen’s attorneys, for their part, lauded the decision and defended Cohen’s right to pen a memoir on Trump.
Of course, Cohen would be far from the first to release such a tell-all. But should we really be surprised that yet another Trump friend-turned-enemy wants to cash in on their former relationship with the president?