Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump‘s former personal attorney, was sent back to jail Thursday after being told he could not write a planned tell-all book while on home detention and refusing to comply.
He was taken by U.S. Marshals to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged procurer, is also in custody, then transferred to Otisville, the prison camp in upstate New York where he had been held earlier this year.
The move came a week after he was caught having dinner at a Manhattan restaurant near his home long after his curfew.
Cohen was seen at a sidewalk table outside Le Bilboquet, a French restaurant around the corner from his Park Avenue apartment, last Thursday with his wife Laura and another couple. The menu includes a $29 Cobb salad; bread and butter is $3.
But his dinner outing apparently had nothing to do with Cohen’s being taken back into custody. Instead, Cohen was told this Thursday morning that he would be banned from writing a book – which he had already trailed on social media – and refused to sign an agreement to do so.
The 53-year-old had reported to the federal courthouse in Manhattan to convert his furlough to home confinement, his lawyer Jeffrey Levine said outside of the courthouse.
He had been expecting to sign papers formalizing his home release and be given an ankle bracelet. The terms of home release are set by the Bureau of Prisons, which is overseen ultimately by Attorney General Bill Barr through the Department of Justice.
Instead, Levine said, they were presented with an agreement that barred Cohen from having any contact with news media organizations, from posting on social media, and publishing his book.
‘I’m never seen any language like this in my life,’ Levine said.
Lanny Davis, another attorney for Cohen, said ‘it really was total surprise that this happened with no expectation whatsoever.’
He said not even Cohen’s wife Laura knew he was being taken back into prison.
‘It’s pretty troubling the way they handled this so abruptly,’ Davis said.
President Donald Trump’s former lawyer enjoyed a Thursday outing at a sidewalk table outside Le Bilboquet, a French restaurant in the Upper East Side
Proof: Michael Cohen’s attorney Jeffrey Levine holds up his client’s belt and jacket after he was remanded at federal court in Manhattan Thursday
Back to prison: How Inmate 86067-054, Michael Cohen, was ordered back into custody
He was with his wife, Laura, and another couple and did not leave the establishment until 11.30pm
Cohen and his group were the last to leave the establishment
After he and Cohen objected, Levine said, the U.S. Marshals Service came with ‘shackles’ and ordered him remanded to the jail in Brooklyn because he failed to agree to the terms.
Davis said Cohen offered to sign the agreement when he realized he would be taken back to prison.
‘When he recognized he was about to go back to jail and the shackles were about to be put on him – or were already in the process – he said okay I’ll sign. And that’s when the marshal said it’s out of our hands,’ Davis said.
He refuted reports that Cohen had refused an ankle bracelet, saying Cohen knew he was going there to get one.
The Bureau of Prisons said Cohen had ‘refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility.’
Davis – a longtime Clinton attorney – said on a conference call with reporters that he was suspicious ‘somebody on high is involved here.’
‘I don’t know that. But something just seems off to me,’ he said.
HOPE THAT WAS WORTH IT MICHAEL! WHAT’S ON THE MENU AT LE BILBOQUET
Michael Cohen’s 11.30pm dinner has proved costly – but it was already at the high end
Tartare de Thon: Tuna tartare with sesame dressing, cucumber, crispy wonton: $25.00
Endives au Roquefort Salad. Salad of white and red endive, tomatoes, blue cheese dressing and Roquefort cheese, candied walnuts and apple: $19.00
Cobb Salad. Chicken breast, avocado, eggs, blue cheese, corn and romaine lettuce: $29.00
Le Saumon a La Plancha. Seared Atlantic salmon, yogurt sauce, and tabouleh: $29.00
Le Poulet Cajun – ‘signature dish,’ chicken breasts with cajun spice mix, beurre blanc, tomatoes and parsley, served with french fries and salad: $36.00
French baguette and butter: $3.00
Pomme frites: $14.00
Chocolate mousse: $12.00
Assorted marshmallows: $12.00
The agreement presented to Cohen required him not to speak to anyone in the media, nobody ‘relating to film production,’ and ‘you’re not allowed to publish your book,’ Davis said, adding it was odd as Cohen was speaking to reporters while he was in prison.
‘His understanding was he was not going to be able to publish his book in the next couple of months, which was his plan,’ Davis said.
He said Cohen’s book is ‘done and pretty much ready to be published.’ He confirmed it did include details of Cohen’s work for Donald Trump.
Davis refused to say if Cohen was being taken back into custody to prevent the book coming out, saying it would only be ‘speculation’ on his part but then he went on to note how the Trumps tried to halt publication of books by former National Security Adviser John Bolton and the president’s niece Mary Trump.
‘I am at least logical in connecting the dots on the wall in seeing what was done with Mr. Bolton and what was done with Mary Trump in trying to prevent publication,’ he said.
Cohen was served with the no-book demand shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that Trump cannot stop prosecutors in Manhattan from getting his tax returns by claiming he is immune from investigation – in a case which was kick-started by Cohen’s federal conviction.
He was serving a three year sentence for crimes that included tax evasion, bank fraud and lying to Congress when he was released to home custody due to the coronavirus crisis.
Cohen was released from prison on May 20 due to the coronavirus, even after a judge had refused to reduce his sentence just two months earlier.
On July 2 he tweeted that he is ‘close to completion’ of a book – then went out to dinner that night.
The meal broke his curfew conditions by being after dark; he was with his wife, Laura, and another couple and did not leave the establishment until 11.30pm, the New York Post reports. His group was the last to leave.
While the Cohens were not wearing masks while they sat with the couple, they did put on masks before exchanging hugs with the other pair.
According to an employee from eatery Avra Madison, located on East 60th Street, Cohen has also visited that restaurant.
‘He’s nice, and used to come here all the time,’ the source said of the former lawyer’s visit from earlier in the week.
He had completed about a year of a three-year sentence for his role in hush money payments to two women, as well as for financial crimes and lying to Congress.
His sentence expires on November 22, 2021, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.
The women – pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougall – said they had sexual relationships with Trump. The president has denied having relationships with either woman.
Prosecutors said the payments amounted to illegal campaign contributions. Trump, who denied the affairs, said any payments were a personal matter.
He also dodged taxes on $4 million in income from his taxi business, lying during congressional testimony about the timing of discussions around an abandoned plan to build a Trump Tower in Russia, and orchestrating payments to two women to keep them from talking publicly about alleged affairs with Trump.
The 53-year-old was to sentenced to three years for a series of crimes but was released from prison on May 20 due to the coronavirus
While the Cohens were not wearing masks while they sat with the couple, they did put on masks before exchanging hugs with the other pair
New home: Michael Cohen was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, which is also holding Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged procurer. He was then transferred to his old prison in Otisville, upstate New York
‘I find it unusual that he’s out to dinner,’ said Lindsay.
‘I don’t know that I ever remember furloughs being approved for social reasons.’
Following his release, Cohen made his first remarks in a tweet on May 21. ‘I am so glad to be home and back with my family’ he tweeted just after noon.
The disgraced attorney disclosed that he is planning to speak out.
‘There is so much I want to say and intend to say,’ he wrote. However, he added, ‘Now is not the right time. Soon,’ and offers thanks to his supporters.
Cohen, who had originally been eligible for release in November 2021, had been expected to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement, two sources familiar with the case said on condition of anonymity at the time of his May release.
Cohen, who once said he would ‘take a bullet’ for Trump, later turned on his former boss and cooperated with Democratic-led congressional inquiries. Trump has called Cohen a ‘rat.’ Cohen has called Trump a ‘racist,’ a ‘con man’ and ‘a cheat.’
Jeffrey K Levine, Cohen’s lawyer, defended his client’s outing last week.
Levine added that his client ‘did not violate any of the terms and conditions of his release… and any assertion or suggestion to the contrary would be wholly inaccurate and untrue.’
On the BOP form for furlough applications, inmates must provide a furlough address and declare by signature that ‘I am authorized to be only in the area of the destination shown above and at ordinary stopovers or points on a direct route to or from that destination.’
There is an additional provision that states: ‘I will not leave the area of my furlough without permission, with exception of traveling to the furlough destination, and returning to the institution.’
Cameron Lindsay, an ex-BOP official and former warden, said Cohen’s little outside trip ‘doesn’t look right’ and could be considered a violation of the conditions.