Former lawyer for former US President Donald Trump Michael Cohen leaves Manhattan Borough Federal Court in New York, New York, the United States on November 22, 2021.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
Former Donald Trump personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen served his criminal sentence of house arrest on Monday – and vowed to continue helping law enforcement investigate the ex-president, the Trump Organization and others in Trump’s orbit.
Cohen, who was briefly returned to prison last year by federal authorities after being granted early leave, also told CNBC he would continue to press “to advance prison reform in any way possible.”
“My release today in no way negates the actions I have taken under the leadership and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump,” Cohen said in a statement after submitting documents to Manhattan federal court to put end of his home confinement.
But Cohen said that “this also does not invalidate the behavior of the Department of Justice,” Trump’s Attorney General William Barr, federal prosecutors who have laid criminal charges against him, his sentencing judge “or Donald. Trump himself in my initial pursuits “.
An attorney for Cohen has previously said he appeared to have been unfairly targeted and selectively prosecuted under the Trump administration. The lawyer also said Cohen was not credited with his sentence despite cooperation with investigators, while other members of the Trump organization were not prosecuted by federal authorities.
In his statement Monday, Cohen said, “I remain aware of my responsibilities and my release today will not end my commitment to law enforcement.
“I will continue to provide testimony, documents and cooperation on all investigations to ensure that others are held accountable for their wrongdoing and that no one is” ever “considered above the law,” he said. he adds.
The Manhattan resident, once among Trump’s most loyal employees, has in recent years become a leading critic of the former president and a key witness in the criminal and civil investigations that still plague Trump.
Those investigations include an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which in July indicted the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg with a long-term ploy to avoid paying taxes on executive compensation. Trump’s company and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty in this case.
The Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the New York Attorney General Letitia James are continuing their investigations based on Cohen’s allegations that the Trump Organization misjudged the value of real estate assets to fraudulently reduce tax liability and obtain more advantageous loan and insurance conditions. Cohen brought the charges during his testimony before Congress.
Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal tax crimes, lies in Congress, and campaigns of financial violations. The charges involved hidden cash payments to two women, pornstar Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, shortly before the 2016 presidential election to silence them over their alleged affairs with Trump. The ex-president denies the allegations of the women.
Cohen admitted to facilitating payments to Daniels and McDougal under Trump’s leadership. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office said Trump, identified as “Individual-1” in prosecution documents, acted in coordination with Cohen and directed him in a bid to influence the outcome of the 2016 election .
However, the US attorney’s office has never charged Trump with crimes related to this scheme, despite being sued Cohen for it.
Cohen, struck off the bar for his crimes, was sentenced to three years in prison.
But he was put on home leave in the spring of 2020 after serving more than a year behind bars over fears he was at increased risk of Covid-19 due to pre-existing health issues.
Weeks after his release, Cohen was returned to jail after refusing a request by federal probation officials not to publish a planned book on Trump, or any other book, while serving the remainder of his sentence in house arrest .
Trump was still president at the time, and his attorney general Barr oversaw the Bureau of Prisons, the agency that ordered Cohen to be locked up again.
Cohen was released from prison weeks after a federal judge ruled his return to custody was in retaliation.
“I have never seen such a clause” restricting the publication of a book “in 21 years of magistracy and conviction of people”, then declared the judge Alvin Hellerstein.
The BOP denies retaliating against Cohen, whose book on Trump, “Disloyal,” has become a bestseller.
Earlier this year, Cohen lost an attempt to end his house arrest earlier by claiming credit against his sentence as a result of work and classes he took in prison.
Cohen cited the First Step Act, a federal law signed by Trump that seeks to reduce the size of the federal prison population by asking the U.S. Attorney General to develop a system to assess and reduce the risk of inmate reoffending through programs. educational and other means.
The judge who denied Cohen’s efforts endorsed prosecutors’ argument that the First Step Act program contemplates a “phased-in period” that will allow the BOP to develop tools to assess the risk of recidivism by January 15, 2022.
Cohen told CNBC that his continued efforts to reform US prisons will include “ensuring that all federal inmates receive time credits earned under the First Step Act as of January 15.”