Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen is surprisingly back in prison after an apparent disagreement Thursday over the terms of his continued home confinement. The 53-year-old was released from federal custody six weeks ago on a medical furlough due to the coronavirus and had returned to the courthouse Thursday for what was expected to be a perfunctory extension of his house arrest for the remainder of his prison term, which runs until November 2021. Cohen had been serving a three-year sentence at a minimum security prison in upstate New York and was expected to be allowed to remain at home under a set of strict rules. The former personal attorney for Donald Trump, however, balked at some of the requirements of his confinement at home—including electronic monitoring and a provision that he was not to work on a book or speak to the media while serving out his term—and refused to sign the release document, which ultimately led federal marshals to take Cohen back into custody.
Cohen indicated he has a book ready for publication this September about his time working with Trump, which would obviously run counter to the terms of his supervised release. There were eight conditions laid out by the release document, including a prohibition on engaging with social media in order to “avoid glamorizing or bringing publicity to your status as a sentenced inmate serving a custodial term in the community.” “No engagement of any kind with the media, including print, tv, film, books, or any other form of media/news. Prohibition from all social media platforms. No posting on social media and a requirement that you communicate with friends and family to exercise discretion in not posting on your behalf or posting any information about you,” the document read.
Cohen’s legal adviser Lanny Davis said the former Trump fixer initially refused to sign the document, pointing out that Cohen spoke to reporters while in prison, causing a standoff at the courthouse. From the New York Times:
After Mr. Cohen refused to sign the agreement, the probation officers said they would try to work out a resolution, Mr. Davis said. Mr. Cohen and another of his lawyers, Jeffrey Levine, waited about 90 minutes, Mr. Davis said. Three federal marshals then arrived and, without warning, began to take Mr. Cohen into custody. At that point, Mr. Davis said, Mr. Cohen relented and agreed to sign the document to avoid returning to jail. The marshals continued to take him into custody anyway, Mr. Davis said, with one of them saying, “It’s out of our hands.”
“A memo from a residential reentry manager in New York to the U.S. Marshals alleged that Cohen ‘failed to agree to the terms of Federal Location Monitoring,’ though it did not specify which terms, and asked that he be taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn,” the Washington Post reports. “In statements, the Bureau of Prisons similarly alleged Cohen had ‘refused the conditions of his home confinement’ but did not specify which ones.”
Cohen is serving a prison sentence for two criminal cases: campaign finance violations related to the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and for lying to Congress about the Trump Tower project in Moscow.