Michael Cohen sues Barr alleging retaliation, seeks release from prison

Attorneys for Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenAuthor of controversial Trump Russia dossier speaks out: 'I stand by the work we did' Trump Organization faces new scrutiny in New York civil probe Michael Cohen: Trump bluffing about another White House bid MORE filed a petition late Monday seeking his immediate release from jail, alleging that he was brought back to prison in retaliation for a book he is writing about his time working for President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE.

The petition was filed by lawyers at firm Perry Guha and the American Civil Liberties Union against Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMeadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report Why it's time for conservatives to accept the 2020 election results and move on Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ MORE, Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal and James Petrucci, the warden of the federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., where Cohen is being held.

“He is being held in retaliation for his protected speech, including drafting a book manuscript that is critical of the President — and recently making public his intention to publish that book soon, shortly before the upcoming election,” the petition filed in the southern district of New York states.


The petition seeks Cohen’s immediate release to home confinement, arguing that Cohen’s imprisonment violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. The Department of Justice did not immediately return a request for comment.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence from charges he pleaded guilty to in 2018, was released to home confinement in May over health concerns due to the novel coronavirus.

However, Cohen was brought back into federal custody earlier this month after a dispute with probation officers over a provision in his home confinement agreement that would have barred him from speaking with or through the media, including by publishing a book.   

The petition filed Monday states that Cohen made clear his intention to publish the book in a series of tweets before the Bureau of Prisons presented the terms of the confinement agreement.

According to the petition, Cohen began working on his manuscript after arriving at the prison. It states that the book contains damaging allegations about Trump, including that he made anti-Semitic remarks about “prominent Jewish people” as well as racist remarks about former President Obama and Nelson Mandela. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.


Cohen worked for Trump for more than a decade before he became president, serving as his personal attorney and “fixer.” In 2018, he pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and campaign finance violations and later admitted to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.

Cohen delivered extraordinary public testimony to Congress against his former boss in February 2019, calling Trump a "racist," a "conman" and a "cheat." His decision to do so earned him public rebuke from Trump, who accused Cohen of lying. 

The petition also cites other suits by the Trump administration and Trump family to prevent the publication of recent books written by former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Budget negotiators: 72 hours and counting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat MORE and the president’s niece, Mary Trump, casting them as examples of efforts by the administration to “censor speech that reflects negatively on Trump himself or his administration.” 

The administration's suit against Bolton alleged that the former White House aide published the book without completing the prepublication review process and that it contained classified information. Trump's brother, Robert Trump, sued to block the publication of Mary Trump's book, arguing the work violated a nondisclosure agreement she signed with other members of the family. Neither effort was successful in preventing the release of the books, both of which were published earlier this summer. Trump has targeted both Bolton and his niece with criticism, accusing them of telling lies.