Michael Cohen taken into custody for violating terms of his early release from prison


Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, prepares to speak to the media before departing his Manhattan apartment for prison on May 06, 2019 in New York City.

Mark Morales and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) — President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has been taken into custody for violating terms of his early release from prison, his attorney Jeffrey Levine told reporters Thursday afternoon.

Levine said Cohen had been ordered to appear at the federal court in downtown Manhattan to convert his furlough to home confinement but was detained after failing to agree to the terms of the federal location monitoring for the Southern District of New York. Cohen, Levine said, had been presented with an agreement to not engage with the media.

“I’ve never seen any language like this in my life that would strip a person of their First Amendment rights to communicate with the media,” Levine said.

“We made our objections known to the probation officers and we asked what we can do to work it out,” he continued. Levine said he then “received an order and the US Marshals office came with shackles to shackle Michael Cohen.”

Sue Allison, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons, told CNN Thursday that Cohen “refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility.”

Cohen was also reportedly spotted eating at a New York City restaurant recently. When asked if that incident was related to his detainment Thursday, Levine told reporters outside to courthouse, “I would leave that to your viewers.”

“I think it’s probably the language in the agreement, which, again, I don’t know who gets stripped of their First Amendment rights, but it probably has to do with the optics of everything,” he said.

The episode comes after Cohen was released on furlough from prison in late May due to coronavirus fears.

Cohen was serving a three-year sentence in New York after pleading guilty to lying to Congress, tax charges and two campaign finance charges for facilitating hush money payments to two women who alleged affairs with Trump.

The President has denied having affairs with the women.

A vocal surrogate for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen often sparred with reporters and appeared on television to support his longtime client.

But a months-long investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York into Cohen exposed that he had acted with Trump and his allies, including David Pecker — the CEO of the National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc. — to suppress potentially damaging claims against the now-President.

When pleading guilty to his crimes, Cohen implicated the President, telling a federal judge that he had made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, who prosecutors identified in court filings as “Individual 1.”

His release violation comes in the middle of Trump’s reelection campaign and as the President is facing his greatest test: handling the coronavirus pandemic.

And Cohen, who is working on a tell-all book about his time working with Trump, has been served a cease-and-desist letter from Charles Harder, an attorney for the Trump Organization, two sources previously told CNN.

Among the reasons cited by Harder, they say, is writing the book would violate a confidentiality agreement and Cohen’s ethical and legal obligations, such as attorney-client privilege.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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