Donald Trump’s lawyer for years, Michael Cohen found himself at the heart of legal proceedings in 2017. Cooperating with the authorities, he admitted to having bought the silence of two alleged ex-mistresses of Trump for the sum of $280,000, paid during the presidential campaign.
In December 2018, Cohen was found guilty of violating election laws and tax evasion, and entered prison a few months later, in May 2019, for a three-year sentence. However, he asserted his innocence, denouncing the directives of Donald Trump himself.
On March 13, 2023, Cohen testified before a grand jury in New York, prompting the indictment of his former client. The latter appeared at the bar on April 4, and learned of the 34 charges against him.
A political prisoner?
Entered prison, the lawyer had been busy and had started writing a book, called Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump, published a few months later, in September 2020, by Skyhorse.
In May 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cohen was granted parole for health reasons. He had found his home, before going back behind bars in July, following a decision by the federal authorities.
After filing an appeal, Cohen had obtained a small victory: 16 days after his reincarceration, he was released free. Better still, a judge had considered that this detour in prison constituted an act of censorship. Cohen’s book was indeed finished, and its author was about to begin the promotional campaign.
Comforted, the lawyer had filed a complaint against Trump and members of his administration in December 2021, after having served his three-year sentence. On November 14, 2022, Judge Lewis Liman had however rendered a decision dismissing the complaint, obviously judging that it was not credible. Cohen would thus affirm “ that the executive power has violated its constitutional rights, by using this power to lock up a critical opponent of the president, nothing less ”, the judge was surprised.
The sense of timing
Michael Cohen’s defense had promised an appeal of the decision, and showed a formidable sense of timeliness. “ The holder of executive power has used the immense means in his possession to silence a critical opponent, to throw him in prison and keep him there, putting his health at risk ”, underlines lawyer E. Danya Perry.* 100016*
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According to Reuters, Trump’s defense, led by Alina Habba, described Cohen’s complaint as “unwarranted”. A Manhattan appeals court will consider each other’s arguments.
Recall that Donald Trump, for his part, filed a complaint last April with a federal court in Miami against his former lawyer for “ false testimony ” and “ breach of the bond of confidentiality between a lawyer and his client ”. He is seeking $500 million in damages.
Photograph: Michael Cohen’s book cover