Bar Exams in the Pandemic JURIST Digital Scholars
Michael Cohen released from prison over COVID-19 concerns
©WikiMedia (IowaPolitics.com)
Michael Cohen released from prison over COVID-19 concerns

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, was released from federal prison into home confinement on Thursday as the Justice Department seeks to halt the spread of COVID-19 among inmates.

Cohen’s release comes a week after President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was released from prison amid similar concerns.

Cohen sought release in March due to coronavirus concerns and was denied. Judge Pauley of the Southern District of New York stated that the attempt appeared to be “just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle.”

Attorney General Barr set forth the criteria for release due to COVID-19 concerns in a March memo, offering a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider.

The CARES Act subsequently granted Barr the authority to declare an emergency and release prisoners without judicial approval. In an April 3 memo, Barr instructed the Bureau of Prisons to maximize transfers to home confinement from COVID-19 hotspots. The Associated Press reported that Otisville Federal Correctional Facility, where Cohen was held, is not one of those hotspots.

After his release Thursday, Cohen tweeted out his thanks.

I am so glad to be home and back with my family. There is so much I want to say and intend to say. But now is not the right time. Soon. Thank you to all my friends and supporters.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress about Trump’s dealings in Russia.

For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.