Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, says he deserves early release from home confinement but federal authorities refuse to credit him for good behavior and hundreds of hours of work and prison courses completed behind bars. Cohen filed court papers Monday contending he “could be eligible for release in a matter of weeks or months” under the First Step Act, a sweeping criminal justice reform Trump signed into law in 2018.
Once one of Trump’s closest advisers, Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress. His convictions included orchestrating payments to two women to keep them from talking publicly about alleged affairs with Trump.
Cohen had been scheduled to remain in prison until next November, but was released in May to serve the remainder of his sentence at home as part of an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in federal prisons.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Cohen said, told him in a letter last week that he is “not entitled to any credits for his work performed at FCI Otisville,” the federal lockup in New York where he served more than a year.
Cohen said the letter left him “at a loss” and did not address time credits owed to him under the First Step Act, which encourages inmates to participate in programs aimed at reducing recidivism.
“This absurd response by the government is nothing more than a stonewall tactic,” Cohen wrote in the filings. It’s possible, he added, “that he has already served well past his release date.”
After his initial release, Cohen returned to prison for two weeks in July after an earlier run-in with the Bureau of Prisons. Prison officials said Cohen had refused to sign routine paperwork. Cohen said the prison system wanted him to agree not to publish a tell-all memoir ahead of the November presidential election. He was sent back to his Manhattan apartment after a judge ruled he had faced retaliation.