• Michael Cohen was released from federal custody, for a second time, and sent back to home confinement from the federal prison in Otisville, New York
  • The federal judge who ordered Cohen's release was critical of his imprisonment, saying it was "retaliation" over Cohen's planned book on President Donald Trump
  • The American Civil Liberties Union had also been working to secure Cohen's release, filing a lawsuit against AG William Barr and the warden of the Otisville federal prison

Michael Cohen was officially released from federal prison for a second time on Friday, according to numerous media outlets. Cohen had been taken back into custody on July 9.

Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who ordered Cohen’s release on Thursday, said his imprisonment was “retaliation” for a planned book by Cohen about President Trump. Cohen was formerly Trump's personal lawyer.

“I just spoke with my client as he left FCI Otisville,” Cohen’s lawyer Danya Perry told reporters. “He is extremely gratified that the court upheld his fundamental constitutional right to speak freely and publicly, and he looks forward to doing exactly that.”

The American Civil Liberties Union was also pleased to see Cohen released.

“With this release, the Trump administration would do well to remember that it cannot put someone in prison for writing a book critical of the president,” ACLU attorney Vera Eidelman told reporters.

Cohen’s second imprisonment became a point of controversy over the last week, in part, because of the planned book. Cohen’s legal team said a provision in his home confinement agreement was a gag order that would have blocked the release of his planned book. The Bureau of Prisons argued Cohen became “antagonistic” and difficult about his home confinement in general, but he had been free to write the book if he wished.

The ACLU filed a subsequent lawsuit against Attorney General William Barr and the warden of the Otisville federal prison in New York to secure his release.

Judge Hellerstein was particularly critical of the imprisonment when he ordered Cohen’s release on Thursday.

“The purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement is retaliatory, and it is retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants,” Hellerstein said.

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer and confidante for President Donald Trump, exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York, in New York City, April 16, 2018. Photo: Gettyimages/Drew Angrer