Michael Cohen, disgraced ex-Trump lawyer, to be released from prison

Michael Cohen pled guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other crimes.
Michael Cohen pled guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other crimes.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Michael D. Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, will be released from a federal prison on Thursday (May 21) on furlough, a Bureau of Prisons spokesman said on Wednesday. He had asked to be released over health concerns tied to the coronavirus.

Cohen, 53, who pled guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other crimes, had been serving his sentence at a minimum-security camp next to a medium-security federal prison and detention centre in Otisville, about 120km northwest of New York City.

Cohen's projected release date was November 2021, according to the bureau's website, but he had sought to be released sooner because of medical issues and the risk that they would be exacerbated by the virus' spread at the prison.

One law enforcement official briefed on the matter said it was expected that Cohen would serve the balance of his sentence under home confinement, but it was unclear on Wednesday whether a final decision had been made with regard to that.

Prisons and jails across the country have been hot spots for the spread of the virus. In April, Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the prisons bureau, which is part of the Justice Department, to determine which federal inmates could be safely released to home confinement. As of May 13, more than 2,500 inmates had been, according to bureau data.

The federal crimes that Cohen admitted to were part of a scheme to pay hush money to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump before he was president, which Trump has denied.

In March, the judge who sentenced Cohen rejected his request for release. Cohen's lawyer, Roger B. Adler, had said in court papers that his client "has had two hospitalisations, and a pre-existing condition of pulmonary issues."

Adler said on Wednesday that he was pleased to learn "Mr. Cohen's application for compassionate release has been viewed favourably" and that he looked forward to his client being reunited with his family.

The Bureau of Prisons decision to release Cohen on Thursday was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

 
 
 

The US attorney's office in Manhattan, which prosecuted Cohen, had no comment.

Cohen's release came a week after Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman, was released into home confinement in Northern Virginia because of underlying health conditions and concerns about the virus. He had been serving a federal prison sentence of 7 1/2 years.