Cohen FREED by judge who says jail was to retaliate for Trump book
BREAKING NEWS: Michael Cohen is FREED by judge who says putting him back behind bars was ‘retaliatory’ attempt to stop tell-all book revealing Donald Trump’s race slurs
- Federal judge orders Donald Trump’s disgraced fixer to be freed from prison in Otisville, New York, less than two weeks after he was sent back
- Judge Alvin Hellerstein slammed move to put him behind bars for refusing to agree not to publish a book on Trump or speak to the media
- Said move by AG Bill Barr’s Bureau of Prisons was ‘retaliatory’ and in breach of Cohen’s First Amendment rights
- Cohen’s attorneys revealed his book will describe Trump using racial slurs against Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela
- Ruling is third straight defeat for Trump and his administration in attempts to ban critical books
- John Bolton’s memoir of life as his national security advisor was OKed by another federal judge and New York state judge threw out bid to gag niece Mary Trump
A judge ordered the release from prison of President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Thursday, saying he believes the government retaliated against him for writing a book about his former boss.
Cohen was sent home from prison in May on furlough because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He was shackled again on July 9 after he questioned a home detention agreement that barred him from publishing his book, engaging with news organizations and posting on social media.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said he had never seen in his 21 years on the bench a provision barring a prisoner from speaking to the media and that his First Amendment rights were violated.
‘The purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory and its 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 and others,’ he ruled.
Cohen’s memoir – whose name has yet to be released – promises to go into ‘graphic details’ about Trump’s behavior ‘behind closed doors’ and reveal how he used ‘anti-Semitic remarks’ against Jewish people and ‘racist remarks’ against Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.
The former fixer has said it will be released in September.
The ruling is is the third straight defeat for Trump and his administration in attempts to ban critical books, the first two being by John Bolton, his former national security advisor, then a bombshell memoir by his niece Mary Trump.
Trump had failed to stop both books from coming out, alleging through the DOJ that Bolton had revealed classified information and then taking part in his brother’s lawsuit claiming that Mary Trump had violated a nondisclosure agreement and had to be gagged.
Freed again: Federal judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered Michael Cohen to be released a week after he was returned to prison. He said the attempt to stop him speaking to the media or publishing a book was unprecedented and said: ‘How can I take any other inference but that it was retaliatory?’
Another fine mess: Bill Barr’s attempts to get Michael Cohen locked up ended in failure as a judge said it was ‘retaliatory’ because of the former fixer’s tell-all book plan
Cohen was thrown back into prison one week after tweeting that he would release his tell-all book ahead of the November presidential election
Cohen has been in solitary confinement in a federal prison in Otisville, New York, about 70 miles northwest of New York City since being returned there almost two weeks ago.
His lawyers said in court papers the U.S. Bureau of Prisons violated his First Amendment rights – which the judge agreed with.
‘Michael Cohen is currently imprisoned in solitary confinement because he is drafting a book manuscript that is critical of the President of the United States — and because he recently made public that he intends to publish this book shortly before the upcoming election,’ Cohen’s lawyers, who include attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in seeking an order for his immediate release.
Prosecutors on Wednesday said in court papers that Cohen was ‘antagonistic’ during the July 9 meeting with probation officers and should remain behind bars.
Cohen took issue with nearly every provision of an agreement that would have let him finish his sentence at home, prosecutors said. Among the provisions were the media ban, electronic monitoring and approval for employment.
Jon Gustin, a Federal Bureau of Prisons official, said in a court filing that he made the decision to send Cohen back to prison.
‘In my view, Cohen’s behavior and, in particular, his refusal to sign the conditions of home confinement was unacceptable and undermined his suitability for placement on home confinement,’ Gustin wrote.
Gustin said he was not aware of Cohen’s book.
Adam Pakula, the probation officer who drafted Cohen’s agreement, said he based it on terms for the supervision of high-profile inmates that he got from a fellow officer, including the provision on media contact.
Pakula also said he was not aware of Cohen’s book at the time.
Cohen, who once said he would ‘take a bullet’ for Trump, was sentenced in 2018 for directing hush payments to pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Trump has denied having the encounters.
Cohen served a year of his three-year sentence before being released in May.
In a friend-of-the-court filing, 10 law professors said the government cannot jail a critic for exercising his right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution.
The professors noted the Trump administration’s ‘disparate treatment of its allies and prior attempts to silence or retaliate against critics of the President.’
In their filings attempting to keep Cohen locked up, the Bureau of Prisons revealed that Cohen a probation officer told him he was writing his tell-all book ‘no matter what happens’ and told him to ‘say hello to Mr Barr.’
The documents filed by Barr’s attorney Audrey Strauss claimed Cohen was actually denied house arrest because he was ‘antagonistic’ to probation officers and ‘took issue’ with the terms of the agreement – a claim roundly rejected Thursday by the judge.
‘The evidence instead shows that Petitioner, who had been released from prison on furlough, was remanded in custody on July 9, 2002, 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,’ the document reads.
The decision to hold Cohen in prison also came from a probation officer who ‘had no knowledge’ he was writing a book and who said the convict was going to spill his secrets ‘no matter what happens’, the records state.
Adam Pakula, the probation officer assigned to his case, said in a supporting document that Cohen told him ‘he was writing a book ‘no matter what happens” and told him to ‘say hello to ‘Mr. Barr” – referring to the Attorney General.
‘While I was aware that Cohen was a high-profile inmate, at the time I drafted the [Federal Location Monitoring] Agreement I was not aware that Cohen was writing a book,’ said Pakula.
Court documents filed in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Wednesday have hit back at Cohen’s claims he was imprisoned in retaliation for writing a book, saying it ‘is not supported by the evidence’
Adam Pakula, the probation officer assigned to his case, said in a supporting document that Cohen told him ‘he was writing a book ‘no matter what happens”
Cohen filed the lawsuit late Monday in Manhattan federal court, alleging his First Amendment rights were violated when he was returned to Otisville.
It offers a first glimpse into the secrets plans to spill in his long-anticipated book, which he started behind bars.
‘Mr. Cohen’s book describes Mr. Cohen’s first-hand experiences with Mr. Trump, and it provides graphic details about the President’s behavior behind closed doors,’ the lawsuit says.
‘For example, the narrative describes pointedly certain anti-Semitic remarks against prominent Jewish people and virulently racist remarks against such Black leaders as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.’
The book ‘will rely upon and publish numerous previously unknown anecdotes, supported by documentary evidence,’ the lawsuit states.
Cohen spent hours behind bars writing the memoir before he was released from prison on furlough in May as part of an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus in federal prisons which had fast become hotbeds for the deadly virus.
He had served only a year of his three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges and lying to Congress, among other crimes.
Cohen’s campaign finance charges related to his efforts to arrange payouts during the 2016 presidential race to stop porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal from airing claims they had affairs with Trump.
On July 9, Cohen was thrown back behind bars after federal officials said he refused to sign an agreement of his home confinement including that he would not publish a book until he completes his sentence.
This came one week after Cohen tweeted on July 2 saying he planned to release the book ahead of the November presidential election.
‘I am close to completion of my book… anticipated release date will be late September,’ he tweeted.
Monday’s lawsuit said Cohen was taken back into federal custody because he made it clear he planned to release the book including his crimes related to ‘lying to Congress on behalf of Mr. Trump and committing campaign finance violations on behalf of Mr. Trump’ in the lead-up to the election.
‘In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, he intends to tell the American people about Mr. Trump’s personality and proclivities, his private and professional affairs, and his personal and business ethics,’ according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said US probation officers, working on behalf of the Bureau of Prisons and its director, Michael Carvajal, demanded of Cohen that he agree not to speak to or through any media, including by publishing a book.
The lawsuit also reveals that Trump used his personal attorney Charles Harder to try to gag Cohen in April.
Harder, who led the Trump family’s failed attempt to gag Mary Trump earlier this month, wrote to Cohen on April 30, the lawsuit reveals.
It says he sent ‘a cease and desist’ to one of Cohen’s attorneys, claiming Cohen had sign a non-disclosure agreement when working with Trump.
‘ Mr. Cohen believes that he never signed such an NDA,’ the lawsuit says.
‘Though Mr. Harder purported to attach the NDA to the letter, no NDA was in fact attached. Even after Mr. Cohen’s attorney followed up to request that Mr. Harder send the purported NDA, he failed to do so.’
Cohen has remained in solitary confinement since he was taken to Otisville, the lawsuit said.
It said his health has also suffered, with his blood pressure spiking to critical levels, ‘leading to severe headaches, shortness of breath and anxiety.’
This marks the third explosive book that promises to reveal Trump’s deepest White House secrets after Bolton’s ‘The Room Where It Happened’ was released last month.
Mary Trump’s ‘Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man’ was released on July 14 and sold 950,000 copies on its date of sale.
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