Former lawyer to President Donald Trump Michael Cohen has been taken back into custody after being released from prison early. According to the Bureau of Prisons, Cohen violated the terms of his release.
Cohen was released from prison in late May as part of a program to furlough non-violent offenders to home confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen has pre-existing conditions that put him at higher risk for complications if he contracted the virus.
Cohen’s lawyer Jeffrey Levine said that he was rearrested because of a “false narrative” after he met with probation officials on Thursday to work out the terms of his release and get fitted for an ankle monitor.
After balking at signing a gag order restricting him from speaking out against Trump or writing a book before his release in 2021, Cohen was taken into custody and returned to an Otisville, New York correctional facility. He is now in solitary confinement for 14 days, his lawyer said.
Cohen’s lawyer disputes narrative
According to CNBC, Levine said it was “absolutely not true” that Cohen refused to sign the gag order, and that Cohen wants to sign it in order to stay out of prison.
After Levine and Cohen tried to negotiate the terms of the gag order, Levine said Cohen was shackled and told he was refusing to comply with the monitoring agreement.
According to Levine, when Cohen said he would sign the agreement he was told it was too late.
CNBC reported that eight inmates and one employee at the Otisville prison have the coronavirus.
What’s going on?
Levine is trying to contact the prison to see what can be done to get Cohen re-released, and said he would contact officials in the federal courts if he could not get satisfaction from prison officials.
Advisor to Cohen Lanny Davis questioned “whether it is a coincidence” that Cohen was returned to custody right after Trump failed to stop the release of two tell-all books about him that contained derogatory content, CNBC reported.
Cohen pleaded guilty to bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations in 2018 for making payments to two women who said they had sexual relationships with Trump.
Trump has maintained that Cohen acted unilaterally to make the payments and that he didn’t know anything about it, but Cohen has said that Trump knew about the payments.