Michael Cohen, convicted felon and onetime lawyer to former President Donald Trump, has notified the Federal Bureau of Prisons that he plans to sue for $20 million, arguing that he was illegally returned to prison last year in retaliation for writing a critical book about his former boss.
Cohen’s lawyers are also preparing a second claim alleging that then-Attorney General William Barr and Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal violated Cohen’s First Amendment right to free speech by returning him to prison, CNBC reports.
In May 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis, Cohen was released from prison to home detention midway through his three-year sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
The claim argues that government officials committed “false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, wrongful confinement, and retaliation” against Cohen for making critical statements about Trump and writing a book about him.
Cohen, 54, claims he experienced “emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of freedom” as a result of his reincarceration, CNBC reports.
A Manhattan federal court judge ordered Cohen’s release from prison again after he spent more than two weeks behind bars. The judge ruled that sending Cohen back to prison “was retaliatory in response to Cohen intending to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book critical of the President and to discuss the book on social media.”
Cohen’s attorney Jeffrey Levine warned in a statement that such ”unacceptable and constitutionally violating behavior could be directed against any of us.”
The government has six months to respond to Cohen’s claim. If it fails to respond, Cohen can then file a lawsuit against the government and other defendants.
The Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.