Michael Cohen was released from prison Friday after a Manhattan federal judge ruled federal authorities “retaliated” against the former Trump lawyer for writing a tell-all book about the president. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said that Cohen could return to home confinement without restrictions after he was thrown back into prison on July 9 for refusing to sign an agreement that allowed him to remain home as long as he didn’t publish his book. Hellerstein said that during his 21 years on the bench he had never “seen such a clause,” adding “How can I take any other inference but that it was retaliatory?” He agreed with Cohen that it was a violation of Cohen’s First Amendment rights.
Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress about hush-money payments and plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, was allowed in May to go home due to concerns about the coronavirus. After the July order back to prison, Cohen sued Attorney General William Barr and the Bureau of Prisons director.