Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department are doing everything they can to prevent Michael Cohen from publishing a book that claims President Donald Trump made “virulently racist remarks” about Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela, according to a new lawsuit.
Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, claims in the suit filed late Monday that Barr and the Bureau of Prisons are violating his First Amendment rights. The lawsuit provides new details on the haphazard effort to take Cohen back into custody on charges of campaign finance violations, bank fraud, lying to Congress and other crimes.
Prison officials had released Cohen to furlough – a more permissive form of home confinement – in May due to the risk of catching coronavirus in prison.
But once Cohen began tweeting “#WillSpeakSoon” and teasing his book, Trump and the Department of Justice did everything they could to lock him back up, the suit says.
“U.S. Probation Officers, working on behalf of the BOP, presented Mr. Cohen with an unconstitutional demand: As a condition of his release – a release BOP already had determined was necessary to protect Mr. Cohen’s health – he had to agree to a complete bar on speaking to or through any media of any sort, including via a book,” the suit states.
The book “describes Mr. Cohen’s first-hand experiences with Mr. Trump, and it provides graphic details about the President’s behavior behind closed doors,” the suit reads.
“The narrative describes pointedly certain anti-Semitic remarks against prominent Jewish people and virulently racist remarks against such Black leaders as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.”
The decision to take Cohen, 53, back into custody on July 9 appeared to have been made at the last minute. The document officials asked Cohen to sign requiring his silence was “riddled with typographical errors and irregularities,” according to the suit.
It proposed restrictions on Cohen’s family and friends – a problematic requirement that seemed very difficult to enforce, the suit notes.
Cohen and his attorney waited over an hour at Manhattan federal court for clarification on some of the requirements. Probation officials said they were just waiting on a response from their chain of command. Cohen, the suit emphasizes, never refused to sign the document.
But negotiation wasn’t going to happen.
“Three United States Marshals arrived with handcuffs and shackles and placed them on Mr. Cohen in order to remand him back to prison,” the suit states.
The Bureau of Prisons released a statement falsely claiming that Cohen refused the proposal, resulting in his incarceration, the suit claims.
Cohen is now at FCI Otisville in Orange County.
“For some 23.5 hours every day, Mr. Cohen lives alone in a 12 by 8-foot cell. On weekends, Mr. Cohen is only permitted to leave his cell for 30 minutes over the course of 72 hours,” the suit reads.
Cohen seeks an order returning him to home confinement to complete his three-year sentence. Once a Trump loyalist, Cohen flipped on the president and made efforts to assist authorities in Trump-related investigations.
Cohen called Trump “a cheat, a liar, a con man, a racist” in testimony before Congress.
Trump has been the recent subject of several unflattering tell-alls.
The White House waged an unsuccessful fight to block former national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book, which details Trump’s affinity for dictators.
Trump’s brother, Robert, also fought, unsuccessfully, to block the publication of a book by the president’s niece, Mary Trump, which portrays him as a needy narcissist with mental illness.
The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment.