Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, has been taken back into federal custody after the Bureau of Prisons alleged he had “refused the conditions of his home confinement.”
The move comes less than two months after Cohen was let out of federal prison early as part of the Justice Department’s push to stem the spread of coronavirus among inmates. The president’s former self-proclaimed “fixer” who would later become a nemesis to Trump had been serving a three-year term for financial crimes and lying to Congress.
Last week, Cohen was photographed by The New York Post eating outside the French restaurant Le Bilboquet, which is near his Manhattan apartment, sparking some speculation that he was violating the terms of his release. The Bureau of Prisons statement did not address that, noting only that on May 21, Cohen had been “placed on furlough pending placement on home confinement.”
“Today, Michael Cohen refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility,” the statement said.
Roger Adler, one of Cohen’s attorneys, said the development was “news to me,” and he was seeking more information. He said he was concerned by the timing of the action, on the day the Supreme Court decided that a New York prosecutor could pursue a subpoena of the president’s private and business financial records.
“The coincidence of the Supreme Court’s decisions and this action by the BOP under the supervision of Attorney General (William) Barr is, I find, unsettling, and hopefully only coincidental,” Adler said.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 in two separate criminal cases. In the first, he admitted to campaign finance violations stemming from payments made before the 2016 election to Daniels and another woman who alleged having affairs with Trump years earlier. In the second, he admitted he lied to Congress about a Moscow real estate project Trump and his company pursued while Trump was trying to secure the Republican nomination to become president.
In court and in public, Cohen placed the blame for his misdeeds squarly with the president, saying he felt it was his duty to cover up the “dirty deeds” of his former boss.
After reporting to prison last May, Cohen repeatedly sought to get out early – most recently citing the threat he faced from the coronavirus pandemic. Prosecutors objected, and U.S. District Judge William Pauley III rejected that bid. But Cohen was then permitted to leave under a push by Barr to use new authority given to him by Congress to release more inmates.
According to information on the Bureau’s website, it has now moved more than 6,700 to home confinement.
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Matt Zapotosky