A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of Michael Cohen to home confinement, agreeing with his lawyers that he was wrongly sent back to prison after making public statements critical of President Donald Trump.
Cohen began serving a three-year prison sentence last year for financial crimes and lying to Congress. But when the pandemic hit, he was released in May as part of a nationwide program allowing federal inmates to be transferred to other prisons or confined to their homes....
A week after tweeting that he was finishing a tell-all book about Trump, Cohen was told by a probation officer that he would have to agree to a complete ban on speaking in public, including by publishing a book, as a condition of continued home confinement, according to court documents. He was asked to sign a form that included this provision: "No engagement of any kind with the media, including print, tv, film, books, or any other form of media/news. Prohibition from all social media platforms."
"I've never seen such a clause in 21 years of being a judge and sentencing people," said federal District Judge Alvin Hellerstein. "How can I take any other inference but that it was retaliatory?"
Cohen's lawyers said when they asked if that provision could be modified, they were told that the officers would need to discuss it with their superiors. But a short time later, Cohen was placed in handcuffs and shackles and sent back to Otisville."Michael Cohen refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility," prison officials said in a public statement. But his lawyers said he never refused to sign anything.
Sending him back to prison was an effort by the Trump administration to censor criticism of the president, Cohen's lawyers told the judge. They cited previous court rulings which held that prisoners retain the First Amendment right to write and publish articles critical of government officials
In a declaration filed in court, Cohen said his book will describe his experiences working as a lawyer for Trump before and after the presidential election, including "graphic and unflattering details" about Trump's behavior.
- Poll out of Florida by StPetePolls.org of show Biden with a 6 point lead in the state. In late May, StPetePolls only had Biden with a 1 point lead. That increase might have been even more substantial than 5 points though as the May poll relied on "registered voters" while the July poll focused on "likely voters," a metric that usually improves Trump's numbers by a few points.
- Interesting to watch Trump-friendly members of Congress attack Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney for not being sufficiently supportive of Donald Trump. What ultimately set off the backlash, which will no doubt pass to Trump sycophants in the "conservative" media if it hasn't already, is that Liz Cheney dared to publicly support Dr. Fauci. Basically, 100% Trump supporters, like Matt Gaetz are attacking Cheney who "only" supports Trump 97% of the time. Now, by tweet, Donald Trump is joining in the the attack on Cheney. Supposedly this is an initial skirmish in the war for the soul of the GOP that will take place if Trump loses in November. Trumpers shooting other Trumpers. Not sure that is a bad thing.
- Meanwhile in the anti-Trump GOP camp, you're seeing a quiet battle taking place between Republican Voters Against Trump and the Lincoln Project. Very simply, RVAT believes that Trump is the problem and once he is gone the GOP can return to its longstanding conservative principles. As part of that mission, RVAT shuns attacking Trump's GOP enablers in Congress. To the Lincoln Project though the enablers are the problem, maybe even a bigger problem than the President. . The organization aggressively targets Trump enablers in Congress who for 3 1/2 years failed to exercise their independent authority to check the president, inaction that exacerbated Trump's assault on conservative values and democratic norms. For the Lincoln Project, Trumpism and not just Trump, is the problem. For the record, I completely agree with the Lincoln Project.
- It appears that today Indiana will be reporting the highest daily total of new Covid-19 cases since the 949 cases it reported on April 27th. It seems that with this pandemic, every state eventually gets its time in the barrel with a surge of Covid-19 cases. I think our time is soon coming.
- On a related note, Governor Holcomb issued a state-wide mask mandate. Shortly after the mandate, Attorney General Curtis Hill, who recently lost his renomination bid, issued an advisory opinion that Holcomb did not have the authority to issue the executive order. A quick review of Hill's reasoning seems to be that the legislature cannot delegate to Holcomb the authority to adopt a mask mandate, that that would require a law passed by the Indiana legislature. The extent to which a legislature can delegate its legislative authority to the executive is a very gray area of law. I do not know enough about it to have an opinion on whether Hill is right about the law.
- UPDATE: Holy crap. Quinnipiac, which does top notch polling, just issued a Florida poll of registered voters showing Biden up 13 points in Florida. During 2016, Hillary Clinton never had a double figure lead in any Florida poll and, in fact, Trump had the lead in several polls including most of the final ones before the election.