Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen taken back into federal custody

Law enforcement officials said Cohen refused to sign documents prohibiting him from interacting with the media or writing a book.
Image: Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen arrives at his apartment in New York City on May 21 after being released from federal prison to serve the rest of his sentence under home confinement.Mike Segar / Reuters

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By Adam Reiss, Jonathan Dienst and Tom Winter

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, was sent back to prison Thursday after refusing to sign a home confinement agreement barring him from publishing a book or speaking to the media, according to law enforcement officials and Cohen's attorneys.

U.S. marshals took Cohen into custody after he arrived at a New York federal courthouse Thursday morning to sign home confinement documents, said his lawyer Jeffrey Levine.

Law enforcement officials said Cohen, who had been released from prison because of coronavirus concerns, refused to sign the agreement prohibiting him from interacting with the media or writing a book.

Cohen was presented with eight terms of home confinement and grew upset about the media gag conditions, said his former lawyer and adviser Lanny Davis. Davis said Cohen was reluctant to sign because he had already completed his book while in prison.

Cohen and his attorney were in a room discussing the situation for an hour and a half when three federal marshals showed up with shackles, Davis said. Cohen told them he would sign, Davis said, but one of the marshals said it was out of their hands.

Davis said he suspects "somebody on high is involved here."

"I don't know that, but something just seems off to me," he said in a conference call with reporters.

Cohen was scheduled to be sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Levine said, but he was in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

"Today, Michael Cohen refused the conditions of his home confinement, and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility," a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said.

Cohen was photographed a few days ago at a restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The image was splashed across the cover of the New York Post.

"Michael's belief is that his going out to dinner a block from his home is not a violation of any of his rules," Davis said.

Cohen was released from federal prison in May. He was serving a three-year sentence after having pleaded guilty to what a federal judge called a "veritable smorgasbord" of criminal conduct, including making secret payments to women who claimed they had had affairs with Trump, lying to Congress about the president’s business dealings with Russia and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

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Cohen was initially set to be released from federal lockup in Otisville, New York, in November 2021. He had served just over a year of his sentence when he was released early.

"I am so glad to be home and back with my family," Cohen tweeted at the time. "There is so much I want to say and intend to say. But now is not the right time. Soon. Thank you to all my friends and supporters."

Adiel Kaplan contributed.