In early July, nearly two months after Michael Cohen was sent home from prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence on home confinement, he was taken back into custody. At the time, the Bureau of Prisons said President Trump’s former personal lawyer “refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has a different take. On Monday, the organization sued the federal government for imprisoning Cohen “in retaliation for his plans to publish a book critical of Trump.”
“We will defend the First Amendment from government censorship — as we have for a century now,” the ACLU said in a tweet.
Cohen was taken back to jail on July 9 after he raised issues with one of the provisions of his home-confinement agreement. According to his lawyer, Cohen was asked to agree that he would not engage with the media through any medium, including books. A week prior, Cohen tweeted that his tell-all on Trump was “close to completion.”
Cohen’s lawyer, Jeffrey Levine, who said he’s never seen a provision like that before, told CNN that he and Cohen asked “what we can do to work it out.” According to the ACLU’s lawsuit, probation officers in the meeting seemed open to discussion. But before an agreement was reached, U.S. Marshals arrived, shackled Cohen, and took him back into custody for refusing to sign the release agreement.
But he hadn’t refused to sign the agreement, Levine and the ACLU argue. When Levine pointed that out to probation officers, they “did not deny this, but instead said it was ‘out of [their] hands’ and was an order from within the BOP,” the lawsuit says.
The ACLU lawsuit also includes some teasers about what will be in Cohen’s book, including “details about the President’s behavior behind closed doors.” Among them are “anti-Semitic remarks against prominent Jewish people and virulently racist remarks against such Black leaders as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.”