Just weeks ago Michael Cohen was sent back to prison after refusing to agree to not write a book or conduct media interviews as a condition of house arrest, a huge violation of his First Amendment rights. Thursday, a Judge agreed and has now ordered Cohen to be released to home confinement, saying on the record that it was pretty clear that his reconfinement was retaliation for writing a book about Donald Trump.
The Washington Post reports that U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has ordered Cohen to be released from prison by 2 p.m. on Friday. He will then be placed under house arrest in his home in Manhattan.
The judge made this scathing statement in the phone conference:
The judge refused to accept the prosecutor's explanation for the remand, which was that Cohen was "combative" with the probation official overseeing his release.
Twitter had thoughts:
BREAKING: A federal judge just ordered the release of Michael Cohen to home confinement.
This ruling in our case is a victory for the First Amendment.
— ACLU (@ACLU) July 23, 2020
I am relieved that the court has protected Michael Cohen’s First Amendment rights, but think about what this means. Trump Admin tried to imprison a citizen for writing a book critical of the President. It is not an overstatement to say that this is a hallmark of tyranny.
— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) July 23, 2020
The judge in the Michael Cohen hearing: "I cannot believe fairly that there was not a purpose to stop exercise of First Amendment rights," calling the provision to his home confinement requiring that he not publish a book "retaliatory" and unlike anything he'd seen in 21 years.
— Emily Jane Fox (@emilyjanefox) July 23, 2020
Federal judge finds that the administration used imprisonment to silence Michael Cohen and violate his Frist Amendment rights.
There’s a tendency to go numb from all the abuses but this is a big deal
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) July 23, 2020
We may be on the verge of going full authoritarian, but the First Amendment appears intact (for now). Michael Cohen was Trump's "fixer" for so long - his book will be a bestseller before the first day it's released.