Politics

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen blasts prosecutors, saying they're 'running out the clock' to keep him in home confinement

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Key Points
  • Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for ex-President Donald Trump, blasted federal prosecutors Friday for their arguments opposing his efforts to end his home confinement.
  • Cohen accused prosecutors of "running out the clock" by waiting until the last minute to file a response to his lawsuit, which asks a federal judge to rule that he has satisfied his sentence as a result of work and educational courses he completed while in prison.
  • He separately is helping a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. into Trump and the Trump Organization.
Michael Cohen walks after leaving the Manhattan district attorney’s office on March 19, 2021 in New York City.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for ex-President Donald Trump, on Friday blasted federal prosecutors for their arguments opposing his efforts to end his criminal sentence of home confinement.

In a new court filing, Cohen accused prosecutors of "running out the clock" by waiting until the last minute to file a response to his lawsuit, which asks a federal judge to rule that he has satisfied his sentence as a result of work and educational courses he completed while in prison.

He said prosecutors are recycling "the same losing arguments that they have previously presented to other courts" in cases involving other federal convicts who sought an early end to their sentences under the federal First Step Act.

That law, signed by Trump in 2018, seeks to reduce the size of the federal prison population by having the U.S. attorney general develop a system to assess and reduce the risk of recidivism of inmates through educational programs and other means.

In his filing, Cohen also harshly criticized a federal prison case manager for having submitted an affidavit, cited by prosecutors, that Cohen said effectively concluded that "he should not benefit from programs completed because he did not need exercise, spirituality, or parenting assistance."

The Manhattan resident wrote that the case manager, Nicole Gulliver, told him and other inmates at the prison in Otisville, New York, at "mandatory town meetings" that "all courses and work assignments would provide good time credit / earned time credit under the First Step Act."

"Gulliver's affidavit is reprehensible in that it too seeks to diminish the programs she and FCI Otisville staff directly told Mr. Cohen to take, as well as the 380 days that he worked divided amongst the HVAC pipe shop and the water treatment facility," Cohen wrote in his filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Cohen's suit argues that he is entitled to have the detention portion of his criminal sentence declared as already satisfied or nearly satisfied after months in home confinement.

He says his very latest release date is May 29.

But he argues in his filing that credits he is entitled to, from work and educational programs, mean he "could have been released from home confinement more than 60 days ago."

Cohen told CNBC, "The government continues to ignore the law and common sense as they recirculate the same failed arguments previously decided by other federal courts."

"Instead of continuing with their obvious delay tactics, they should simply  do their job and follow the first step act; providing inmates, myself included, with earned time credits," Cohen said.

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York argue that Cohen's sentence will expire in late November. An SDNY spokesman declined to comment on Cohen's filing.

Cohen, who served for years as Trump's personal lawyer, pleaded guilty in 2018 to multiple tax evasion counts, two counts of unlawful campaign contributions and making a false statement to Congress.

In that case, he admitted facilitating, at Trump's direction, hush money payments to two women who claimed to have had sexual affairs with the former president.

Trump denies the women's claims. But he reimbursed Cohen for the payments that the lawyer personally had made to one of them, porn star Stormy Daniels.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison.

But he was released into home confinement last spring due to concerns that his pre-existing health conditions made him particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.

Even before his release, Cohen was cooperating with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office in an ongoing criminal investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization. Cohen met last week with top DA officials for the eighth time.

Vance's office is also probing allegations, first raised by Cohen in congressional testimony, that the Trump Organization manipulated the valuation of various real estate assets to benefit financially from lower insurance and tax rates in some cases, and from more favorable loan terms in other instances.

In their response to his lawsuit last week, prosecutors argued that Cohen has not shown any injury from a delay in being released from home confinement and that the First Step Act does not require the Bureau of Prisons to apply earned time credits for any inmate until Jan. 15, 2022.

Prosecutors also argued that "Cohen is not eligible to receive [earned time credits] for any of the courses or work he identifies as having completed."

"This is primarily because Cohen does not have a need for purposes of lowering his risk of recidivism in any of the areas in which he completed courses or work," prosecutors wrote.

In other words, they argued, Cohen's risk of committing another crime was already low and could not be lowered by the programs that he participated in while in prison.

Cohen, in his response Friday, wrote, "The government has both the facts of this case, as well as the relevant law entirely wrong."

Cohen said while the First Step Act requires that all programming for all inmates must be fully implemented by then, it is clear that qualified inmates could benefit from the application of earned time credits by January 2020.

"Both the Attorney General and the BOP itself have made statements supporting this interpretation," Cohen wrote.

"There is genuine urgency to this issue," Cohen wrote. "Each day that this matter is pending is a day that Mr. Cohen is incarcerated unlawfully."

He asked a judge to order his release from home confinement immediately pending the resolution of his lawsuit, so that if he wins the case he will not have served any more time unnecessarily in home confinement.