Michael Cohen rushed back to upstate New York prison after refusing to sign Trump book gag order

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NEW YORK — Michael Cohen is back to square one.

Hours after being taken into custody on Thursday, Cohen was rushed back to the upstate New York prison he got released from just weeks ago over coronavirus concerns, according to his attorney, Jeffrey Levine.

Levine told the New York Daily News that the Bureau of Prisons didn’t let him or his client’s family know until Friday morning that Cohen had been returned to the federal lockup in Otisville.

“I had been trying to locate him all night and no one had any information, and this morning I spoke to the prison and they confirmed to me that he’s been there since last night,” Levine said. “We’ve been completely in the dark on this.”

Cohen, 53, has been placed in solitary confinement to isolate for two weeks as consistent with the prison’s coronavirus protocols, Levine said.

The BOP did not return a request for comment.

The former personal attorney to President Donald Trump was released from the Otisville prison on May 21 to serve out the rest of his three-year sentence in home confinement as part of a Justice Department effort to thin out inmate populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s serving time for pleading guilty to a range of financial charges, including campaign finances crimes that implicate Trump.

But, on Thursday afternoon, he was arrested at a probation office in downtown Manhattan after declining to sign a home confinement contract that required him to promise he wouldn’t speak to any journalists, use social media or publish a tell-all book about Trump for the duration of his sentence.

He arrived at the probation meeting expecting to have an electronic surveillance bracelet fitted to his ankle so he could return to home confinement, Levine said.

Levine, who was with Cohen when he got arrested, said his client at first balked at the de facto gag order when his probation officer presented it because he believed it violated his First Amendment rights.

The officer then left the room and said they would try to work something out, Levine said.

But, nearly two hours later, three U.S. marshals instead came into the room and cuffed Cohen, Levine said.

At that point, Levine said Cohen pleaded with the marshals and told them he was willing to sign the contract as long as he could stay out of prison. But the marshals didn’t budge and took him away, according to Levine.

“He never refused to sign anything,” Levine said. “If door number one is going back to prison and door number two is staying home with a gag order, anyone would choose door number two.”

Levine said he’s tried to get in touch with BOP officials ever since Cohen’s arrest in hope of getting him released back into home confinement.

But no one’s gotten back to him so far, Levine said.

“These are unprecedented times,” the attorney added.

Cohen started working on a book about Trump while still in prison, according to sources. He tweeted earlier this week that he’d have it ready “soon.”

Trump has faced a stream of damning headlines recently over tell-all books written by his estranged niece and former national security adviser.

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