Michael Cohen. Picture: MANDEL NGAN / AFP
Michael Cohen. Picture: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

New York — Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, is back home at his Manhattan apartment where he’s being allowed to serve the rest of his three-year sentence for campaign finance violations.

Cohen, 53, was photographed arriving at his Park Avenue building, wearing a mask, a cap, jeans and a blazer. He said in a tweet that he thanked the media upon arrival.

The decision to release Cohen early reflects how the world has changed since March 24, when a judge rejected the former lawyer’s March 17 request for home confinement due to his fear of contracting the coronavirus. US district judge William Pauley in New York said at the time Cohen had not shown he was in any danger at the prison camp and was just trying “to inject himself into the news cycle”.

On Twitter, Cohen thanked his supporters and said he had a lot to say, but now was not the time.

The virus has spread quickly since Cohen’s request for early release in mid-March, with the US death toll passing 90,000. Across the country, thousands of non-violent inmates and those who are close to finishing long sentences have sought to be released early, citing the spread of the coronavirus in tightly packed jails.

A federal judge in Boston ordered one of the parents in the college admissions scandal released into home confinement in April. Dean Skelos, the former New York state Senate majority leader who was convicted of corruption charges in 2015, was also allowed home confinement in April after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Cohen pleaded guilty in December 2018 to campaign finance violations related to his arrangement of hush-money payments to women saying to have had affairs with Trump, including adult-film star Stormy Daniels. He also turned on Trump, calling him a “racist” and a “con man” in February 2019 congressional testimony.

Cohen had also previously requested early release or home confinement in December based on his co-operation with authorities. In his March ruling, Pauley said Cohen had exaggerated his role in assisting prosecutors, who also opposed letting him out.

On May 13 Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was released from a federal prison in Pennsylvania  to finish his sentence at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bloomberg