A federal judge ordered the release of Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump who pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress, tax evasion and campaign finance fraud involving hush-money payments to women who said they had affairs with Trump.
“This order is a victory for the First Amendment,” Danya Perry, an attorney representing Cohen, told TheWrap in a statement. “The First Amendment does not allow the government to block Mr. Cohen from publishing a book critical of the president as a condition of his release to home confinement. This principle transcends politics. We are gratified that the rule of law prevails.”
He will be back in his home by Friday, according to multiple reports.
The ruling comes two days after Cohen filed a lawsuit against Attorney General William Barr, in which he says the reason he was taken back into custody earlier this month was because of the book he is writing about Trump. The president had denied he had the affairs.
Southern District of New York Judge Alvin Hellerstein made the ruling after finding that the Department of Justice put Cohen back in prison as an act of “retaliation” over the tell-all. Hellerstein said attorneys must rewrite the conditions of the release to better comply with the First Amendment.
Cohen was released on furlough from FCI Otisville in May and was scheduled to be transitioned to home confinement. But Cohen said on July 9 that U.S. Probation Officers presented him with a new condition of his release: “He had to agree to a complete bar on speaking to or through any media of any sort, including via a book.”
In the lawsuit, Cohen said his attorneys sought to negotiate the terms of that demand but he was taken into custody anyway and remanded back to FCI Otisville, where he remains in solitary confinement.
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