Attorney Michael Cohen, who served as former President Donald Trump’s “fixer,” has filed suit against his long-time boss along with former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the federal government for alleging conspiring to have him tossed back in the slammer after writing a ‘tell-all’ book.
The suit stems from Cohen’s release from prison to home confinement to continue his three-year sentence in April 2020 after authorities agreed that he stood a high risk of becoming seriously infected by COVID-19. Cohen was convicted of lying to Congress and engaging in campaign finance violations, reportedly on behalf of Trump.
But in July of last year, Cohen was ordered back to prison, Business Insider reported, for violating newly imposed terms of his home confinement — “that Cohen could have ‘no engagement of any kind’ with the media and ‘no posting on social media.'”
“For the next three months, Cohen remained in his Manhattan apartment, where he started posting on Twitter, using the hashtag #WillSpeakSoon to promote an upcoming tell-all book about his former boss,” Insider noted.
But then, he claims, federal authorities came up with the new condition of his release involving no social media or media contact, which was issued by his probation officer who is also named in the lawsuit.
Cohen says he asked authorities for clarification “and possible revision” at a meeting where he was presented with the new home confinement terms. He says he waited for around 90 minutes while officials “conferred” regarding his request.
In the end, the complaint says, officials concluded that he should be sent back to prison where the former Trump lawyer says he was held in solitary confinement for 16 days.
Later in July 2o20, a federal judge ordered Cohen released and instructed the government to refrain from “any continuing or future retaliation against Cohen for exercising his First Amendment rights.”
Cohen’s legal team told Insider that their client’s First Amendment rights were violated and that they are looking to address what they view as a dangerous legal precedent.
“Unless the government and others are held accountable for their retaliation and unconstitutional remand back to prison of Michael Cohen, illegal actions akin to what happened here can continue to persist as a weapon,” attorney Jeffrey K. Levine told the outlet, adding that if left to stand, the precedent could be used in the future to chill others’ free speech guarantee.
“This is not hyperbole, it’s real, it’s frightening, and it irrefutably just happened,” he said.
In addition to Trump and Barr the suit also names Michael Carvajal, the current Bureau of Prisons director who was appointed by the former AG.
The current lawsuit follows another filed by Cohen six months ago — a federal tort claim against the government that seeks $20 million in damages. Levine told the outlet that since the federal government has yet to respond, the new lawsuit became necessary.
Cohen’s campaign finance charges stem from a $130,000 payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign cycle to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she says she had with Trump a decade earlier, a tryst that the former president vehemently denied. Trump also said at the time he didn’t know about the payments to Daniels.
In May, the Federal Election Commission voted to close its investigation into those alleged campaign finance violations. In February, the federal case against Trump for alleged campaign finance violations was also declared “dead” by sources close to the probe.
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