Michael Cohen Loses Suit Alleging Trump Retaliated Over Book

(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by former Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen accusing the US government and Donald Trump of retaliating against him for publishing a book.

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Cohen was serving a prison sentence for crimes tied to his work for Trump and was initially released to home confinement in May 2020. He was then briefly reincarcerated in upstate New York, which he claimed was punishment for refusing to sign an agreement that would have prevented him from speaking to the media or publishing his book, “Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump.”

US District Judge Lewis Liman said he was required to dismiss Cohen’s suit under Supreme Court rulings that have greatly limited the ability of citizens to sue federal agents accused of violating their civil rights.

“Granting this motion prevents me from obtaining documents that would expose what happens when you have a corrupt president who weaponizes the DOJ through a complicit Attorney General,” Cohen said. “I disagree with Judge Liman’s decision and believe he is simply wrong.”

Liman suggested in his 33-page decision that he was not pleased with the outcome either.

“Cohen’s complaint alleges an egregious violation of constitutional rights by the executive branch -- nothing short of the use of executive power to lock up the president’s political enemies for speaking critically of him,” Liman said. “The Supreme Court’s precedents ensure that there is at best a partial remedy for the abuse of power and violation of rights against the perpetrators of those wrongs.”

The judge was referring to habeas corpus, which allows prisoners to sue for release from false imprisonment.

Cohen filed a habeas petition after he was sent back to prison on July 9, 2020. He was released two weeks later after a federal judge granted his petition.

US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled that Cohen’s return to custody was “retaliatory in response to Cohen desiring to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book critical of the president and to discuss the book on social media.”

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba called the ruling another victory against Cohen.

“The court saw through Cohen’s frivolous lawsuit, which was legally deficient and, more importantly, based upon inflammatory allegations that are simply not true,” Habba said in a statement.

Read More: Michael Cohen Sues U.S., Trump Over Alleged Book Retaliation

--With assistance from Erik Larson.

(Updates with comment from Cohen.)

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