US president Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen was taken back into custody on Thursday for rejecting the terms of a release granted because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail in December 2018 after admitting paying hush money to two women who say they slept with Trump, for tax fraud and for lying to Congress.
The 53-year-old lawyer was released on prison furlough on May 21 as part of a push to stem the spread of COVID-19 among inmates and was due to agree to house confinement rules on Thursday.
‘Today, Michael Cohen refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility,’ a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons told AFP Thursday.
It comes a week after the New York Post tabloid carried a picture of him enjoying a meal outside at a Manhattan restaurant.
However, Lanny Davis, a friend and legal advisor to Cohen, speculated to reporters that Cohen was possibly being held because he planned to publish a book on Trump in the coming months.
He said Cohen initially refused to agree to a term of house confinement that prevented him from speaking to the press or publishing a memoir.
Davis said Cohen later changed his mind when he was threatened with being sent back to prison but was still taken into custody.
Once Trump’s right-hand man, the 53-year-old lawyer fell out of favor with the president who dubbed him a ‘rat’ after Cohen testified in federal court and to Congress.
In 2018 Cohen admitted a number of crimes including violating campaign finance laws by delivering payments prior to the 2016 election to a porn star and a former Playboy model alleging affairs with the president.
Cohen, the father of two children in their 20s, had been serving his sentence at the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution in upstate New York.
The New York Post quoted his lawyer as saying Cohen was being taken Thursday to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
A judge initially rejected his bid for early release over the outbreak that ravaged the state and has overrun prison facilities nationwide.
But coronavirus-relief legislation allowed Attorney General Bill Barr emergency powers to send some inmates into home confinement without judicial permission.
Cohen’s release came a week after Paul Manafort, the president’s one-time election campaign chairman, was freed from jail over the coronavirus threat.
The 71-year-old Republican political consultant is also serving the remainder of his seven-and-a-half year sentence at home.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from North America