Michael Cohen Was Sent Back to Prison After Refusing to Sign a Gag Agreement

Trump’s former fixer is writing a book. His lawyers suggest that’s why he’s back in jail.

Michael Cohen arrives at his Manhattan apartment on May 21, 2020, after his release from federal prison.John Minchillo/AP Photo

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s estranged former personal lawyer, was abruptly sent back to federal prison on Thursday after balking at a gag agreement that would have prevented him from talking to press or publishing a book while on home confinement. Cohen has been on home release since May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a condition of his home confinement, the Bureau of Prisons asked Cohen to agree to significant restrictions. He was required to abstain from “engagement of any kind with the media, including print, tv, film, books or any other form of media/news,” and from “all social media platforms,” according to a copy of the agreement obtained by Mother Jones. Cohen was also required to agree to tell friends and family to avoid posting on his behalf about him.

According to Lanny Davis, Cohen’s confidant and former lawyer, Cohen was presented with the agreement when he showed up Thursday at a Manhattan probation office to receive an ankle bracelet and sign paperwork related to his home confinement. Cohen is serving a three year sentence after pleading guilty in December 2018 to tax evasion, lying to Congress, and campaign finance fraud that involved paying women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump to stay silent before the 2016 election. Cohen has been furloughed since May 21 from a minimum security prison in upstate New York. Furloughs and home confinements carry different restrictions.

According to Davis, Cohen refused to sign the gag agreement because he plans to publish a book in the next few months detailing his work for Trump. Probation officers told him they would make a call to try to “work it out,” Davis says. But after Cohen was left alone for 1.5 hours, federal marshals carrying shackles arrived to take him into custody. Cohen then said he would sign the agreement. But one of the marshals told him it was “out of our hands,” according to Davis, who cited the account of Jeffrey Levine, a Cohen attorney who was present.

Cohen and his lawyers have not been given a specific reason for why he is being returned to federal prison, Davis says. The Bureau of Prisons said Thursday that Cohen “refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility.”

Cohen teased his book on Twitter last week after a federal judge issued a ruling that allowed Mary Trump, President Trump’s niece, to proceed with publishing a book harshly critical of the president.

Read the gag agreement Cohen balked at signing:



Cohen Order (Text)

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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