Michael Cohen "had the rug pulled out from under him" Thursday when he was abruptly sent back to prison, one of his lawyers says. According to the New York Times, President Trump's longtime personal lawyer and fixer was "in good spirits" as he arrived to the courthouse, expecting to fill out some routine paperwork and then go back to home confinement in Manhattan. But Cohen was instead asked to sign a document agreeing not to publish a book or talk to reporters until his 3-year sentence for campaign finance violations and other crimes is completed, and, believing his First Amendment rights were being violated, he refused. The probation officers said they would attempt to come to a resolution, but 90 minutes later, three federal marshals arrived to take Cohen into custody. He then said he'd sign, but was told by the marshals, "It's out of our hands."
The document says its purpose was to "avoid glamorizing or bringing publicity to your status as a sentenced inmate serving a custodial term in the community"; Cohen was released on a medical furlough in May amid the coronavirus pandemic. But when he refused to sign (which is according to his legal adviser—his lawyer says he simply voiced objections to the document), he pointed out that he had spoken to reporters while he was behind bars. Last week, Cohen tweeted that his tell-all about working for Trump was ready for publication and that he expected a September release date. The federal Bureau of Prisons' official reasoning for returning Cohen to jail: He "refused the conditions of his home confinement." "I've never seen any language like this in my life that would strip a person of their First Amendment rights to communicate with the media," says Cohen's lawyer, per CNN. (Read more Michael Cohen stories.)