A United States (US) 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 planning to release a book about Trump before November’s election.
Michael Cohen’s First Amendment rights were violated when he was ordered back to prison on July 9 after probation authorities said he refused to sign a form banning him from publishing the book or communicating publicly in other manners, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said during a telephone conference.
Hellerstein ordered Michael Cohen released from prison by 2 p.m. on Friday.
“How can I take any other inference than that it’s retaliatory?” Hellerstein asked prosecutors, who insisted in court papers and again Thursday that Probation Department officers did not know about the book when they wrote a provision of home confinement that severely restricted Cohen’s public communications.
“I’ve never seen such a clause in 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people and looking at terms of supervised release,” the judge said. “Why would the Bureau of Prisons ask for something like this … unless there was a retaliatory purpose?”
In ruling, Hellerstein said he made the “finding that the purpose of transferring Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory.” He added: “And it’s retaliatory for his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish the book.”
Cohen, 53, sued federal prison officials and Attorney General William Barr on Monday, saying he was ordered back to prison because he was writing a book to be released before the November presidential election.