NEW YORK – President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer was released Friday after a judge ruled that he had been sent back to prison from home confinement as retaliation for his plan to release a book critical of Trump before November’s election.
Michael Cohen walked out of a federal prison in New York on Friday afternoon, his lawyer Danya Perry told The Associated Press, a day after U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was ordered back to prison on July 9.
Probation authorities said Cohen was sent back to prison because he refused to sign a form banning him from publishing the book or communicating with the media or public, Hellerstein said during a telephone conference.
"Mr. Cohen is extremely gratified that the court upheld his fundamental constitutional right to speak freely and publicly,” his lawyer said in a statement on Friday following his release.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges and lying to Congress, among other crimes.
The campaign finance charges stemmed from his efforts to arrange payouts during the 2016 presidential race to keep the porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal from making public claims of extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Cohen was released to home confinement in his New York City apartment in May as authorities tried to slow the spread of the coronavirus in federal prisons. He arrived at the Manhattan apartment building at about 5:30 p.m. Friday, declining to speak to reporters as he went inside.
Taking him back to the federal prison camp in Otisville, New York, earlier this month was clearly meant to punish him for his plan to publish his book, titled, “Disloyal: The True Story of Michael Cohen, Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump," Hellerstein said.