Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s one-time attorney and fixer, has filed a lawsuit against the former president, federal prison officials and former Attorney General William Barr, alleging his prison sentence was “weaponized” to punish him for writing a critical book about Trump.
The suit, filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, claims that Cohen’s home confinement, which was instituted amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, was revoked as alleged “retaliation” for the book he was writing about his experiences with Trump. According to the suit, Cohen was then held in solitary confinement for 16 days.
Cohen’s suit also characterizes the efforts made to quash the book as just “one instance in a long line of retaliatory measures” taken by Trump, his family and associates, “in the weaponization of his administration against his enemies.” The lawsuit noted similar attempts to block books by former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Trump’s niece Mary Trump.
Although Cohen was released from prison to home confinement in May 2020, he was sent back to prison weeks later when he refused to sign an agreement that would have prevented him from using social media or publishing the book.
Less than three weeks after Cohen returned to prison, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered the government to return him to home confinement. Hellerstein said his imprisonment was “retaliatory in response to Cohen desiring to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book critical of the president — and to discuss the book on social media.”
Cohen completed his three-year prison sentence for campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and other offenses last month.
His lawsuit seeks damages for “extreme physical and emotional harm” and violations of his First Amendment rights.
Trump, Barr and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons have yet to respond to the suit.