Michael Cohen walks out of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on March 19, 2021 in New York City.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images
Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and fixer for former President Donald Trump, has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the US government claiming he was illegally jailed last year in retaliation for plans to write a book about Trump. was returned.
Cohen in a notice of claim filed against the US Bureau of Prisons accused the government of false arrest, false imprisonment, wrongful confinement in his claim against the US Bureau of Prisons.
Cohen, 54, says he was sent back to a federal prison in July 2020, just weeks after being released early because of concerns over his risk of COVID-19, “emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of freedom.” ” had to face.
Cohen’s lawyers are preparing a second claim alleging that then-Attorney General William Barr and BOP director Michael Carvajal violated the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech by returning him to prison.
The filing comes nearly a year after a Manhattan federal court judge ordered Cohen’s release more than two weeks later, ruling that Barr and Carvajal’s purpose in sending Cohen back to prison was “Cohen’s use of his First Amendment”. The right to publish a book critical of the President and to discuss the book on social media.”
The government has six months to respond to Cohen’s claim. If he does not respond, he will be able to file a lawsuit against the government and the other defendants.
The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cohen declined to comment on the matter.
His attorney, Jeffrey Levine, said in a statement: “Mr. Cohen was the personal counsel of the President of the United States and if he could be imprisoned for wanting to write a book critical of the President, one’s imagination would go away.” There is no need. Before realizing that such unacceptable and constitutionally infringing conduct can be directed at any of us.”
“It’s not an exaggeration and not acceptable,” Levine said.
Levine told Acesparks that Cohen has sought documents “leading to retaliation” against him under the Freedom of Information Act, but “nothing meaningful has been provided” by the government.
“filing” [of a claim] … is the beginning of our quest to find the truth,” Levine said in an email. “This is the weapon of the Justice Department by former president and his aide AG William Barr, while simultaneously holding them accountable for their actions. “
Cohen, who served Trump loyally for years, pleaded guilty in 2018 to several federal crimes.
These included campaign finance violations related to the payment of money to women who said they had sex with Trump, lying to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow, and financial crimes.
Cohen also became a harsh critic of Trump, cooperating with several investigations into the then-president.
On Thursday, the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Alan Weiselberg, were indicted in the Manhattan Supreme Court on charges related to a scheme to evade taxes on compensation for officials including Weiselberg. Cohen assisted the Manhattan District Attorney in the investigation that led to his prosecution.
Cohen went to jail in early 2019 after three years behind bars. But he was fired in spring 2020 over concerns that he was particularly at risk from the coronavirus due to pre-existing health conditions.
Shortly after his release, Cohen and his attorney were called to meet with federal probation officers in Manhattan on July 9 to discuss the terms of their home incarceration, in exchange for his prison term. was serving in
Cohen was taken into custody that day and returned to prison in Otisville, New York, on the condition that he not publish a book about Trump or anyone else, while the remainder of his sentence is in home confinement.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein said during a hearing, “I’ve never seen a clause in 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people where Cohen’s lawyers called for his release.” “How can I draw any other conclusions but this one was vindictive?”
Last year, the BOP said: “Any claim that the decision to remand Michael Cohen was a retaliatory action is clearly false.”
“While it is not uncommon for the BOP to impose some restrictions on prisoners’ contact with the media, Mr Cohen’s refusal to agree to those terms did not play a role in the decision to remand him to secure custody. Nor did he intend to publish the book.”