Federal Judge Rules Michael Cohen’s Return To Prison Was “Retaliatory” For His Plans To Write A Tell-All Book About Trump, Orders His Release

Trump's going to be so pissed.

635 points

Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr suffered a humiliating defeat in federal court after District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that sending Michael Cohen back to prison appears to be a “retaliatory” move to prevent him from releasing a book critical of the president.

Cohen had been released from his three-year sentence to serve under home confinement instead due to the coronavirus pandemic. There’s nothing in the rule preventing an inmate or former inmate from writing and publishing a book. But when Cohen announced that he is finishing the book for a September release, the Trump administration swooped in to retaliate by trying to force him to sign a form agreeing not to publish a book or talk to the media as a condition of his release.

According to NBC News:

A week after tweeting that he was finishing a tell-all book about Trump, Cohen was told by a probation officer that he would have to agree to a complete ban on speaking in public, including by publishing a book, as a condition of continued home confinement, according to court documents. He was asked to sign a form that included this provision: ‘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.'”

Trump notoriously retaliates against those who tell the truth about him, and he has taken to using the Justice Department to do his bidding.

And so, Cohen was carted back to jail. His lawyers immediately filed a complaint in court along with a brief example of what Cohen’s book will cover.

“For example, the manuscript describes the president’s pointedly anti-Semitic remarks and virulently racist remarks against such Black leaders as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela, neither of whom he viewed as real leaders or as worthy of respect by virtue of their race,” court documents said.

It certainly appears that Trump and Barr retaliated against Cohen in a scheme to keep his book from being released before the November election. And the judge agreed.

“I’ve never seen such a clause in 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people,” Hellerstein said. “How can I take any other inference but that it was retaliatory?”

Cohen is now set to be released by Friday.

“We appreciate the Judge’s ruling confirming that the government cannot block Mr. Cohen from publishing a book critical of the president as a condition of his release to home confinement,” Cohen’s attorney Danya Perry said in a statement. “This principle transcends politics and we are gratified that the rule of law prevails.”

Cohen will now be able to finish his book and get it published prior to Election Day, another blow to Trump’s re-election campaign because millions of Americans will get more inside information about how much of a sh*tty person he is. Cohen may even highlight some of Trump’s criminal activity. That’s not the kind of thing Trump wants Americans to read about before they go to the polls. But imprisoning Cohen in retaliation is really all Americans need to know about how terrible Trump is. If he can retaliate against Cohen in this way, it would only be a matter of time before Trump tries to lock up anyone who criticizes him.

Featured image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore, under Creative Commons license 2.0

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