This week, President Donald Trump's attorney Charles Harder sent a letter to Michael Cohen, the president’s imprisoned former lawyer and fixer, demanding that Cohen stop writing a “tell-all” anti-Trump book, two sources familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast on Friday. The sources noted that the letter, sent on behalf of the Trump Organization, cited Cohen’s non-disclosure agreement that he signed while working for the Trump family’s business empire.
Harder, who’s served as a personal attorney for President Trump and his family and reelection campaign in various capacities, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Trump Organization.
The news of the Trump Org’s legal threat against Cohen came the same day that the prisoner, who was due to be released from federal prison to house arrest on Friday, found that he will in fact remain behind bars, two people familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast.
A person close to Cohen confirmed to The Daily Beast he was now not being released to home arrest.
It was unclear what prompted the last-minute decision to not release Cohen after he—along with other prisoners—had spent 14-days in quarantine at the minimum security facility in Otisville, New York, which had become overrun with COVID-19.
It had been reported that Cohen was preparing for release from the facility May 1, but late on Thursday, a Bureau Of Prisons spokesperson emailed The Daily Beast, “We can confirm that Michael Cohen is located at FCI Otisville, as found when searching his name on our website's inmate locator.
“However, we do not speak to specific inmates' suitability for transfer to home confinement or eligibility for compassionate release.”
On Friday afternoon, when asked if the White House intervened to keep Cohen in the prison despite coronavirus concerns, Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany replied, “no, absolutely not.”
According to sources who privately spoke to the president about this topic last month, Trump was noticeably irritated about the news of the possible early release of Cohen, whom the president has lambasted as a double-crossing “rat.” At the time, Trump had already been discussing pursuing legal retaliation against Cohen, if anything in the manuscript broke attorney-client privilege or was considered libelous, for instance. “He was not pleased when he found out Michael was getting out early,” said a person familiar with this matter.
As The Daily Beast reported, Cohen had been writing a book behind bars and was preparing to spill the beans about his time as Trump’s bagman, which involved two hush-money payments to women Trump allegedly had affairs with.
Cohen was due to be behind bars until November 2021 for his roles in hush-money deals to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal as well as other crimes.
A follow up report from The Beast this past weekend detailed how Trump was seething that his former confidant was being released early from prison and reported how the president was seeking information on what was in Cohen’s manuscript.
“The stories that will be in the book aren’t privileged. The stories wouldn’t violate attorney-client privilege,” a person close to Cohen had earlier told The Daily Beast.
“They are stories about Trump’s personality and behavior that would raise an eyebrow. There are stories about what it’s like being around this man and things that he did that most people typically do not do. A lot of it will be about looking at things he’s said and done with women and other [politically incorrect] things. It’ll be an insider’s look about what it was like to be alongside the president for 12 years.”
Asawin Suebsaeng contributed reporting to this piece.