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Lawyer Lanny Davis On Michael Cohen's Return To Prison


Last night, President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone. The move means Stone will avoid spending time in prison after he was convicted of lying to Congress as it investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump said Stone was the victim of a, quote-unquote, "witch hunt" by prosecutors.

Meanwhile, just a couple of days ago, Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was sent back to federal prison after a dispute over the terms of his home confinement. Cohen is serving time after he pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations related to hush payments he made to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump before he was president. Cohen was released from detention in May and allowed to serve time at home because of health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic - that is, until Thursday.

Lanny Davis is a legal adviser to Michael Cohen, and he says that on Thursday, his client was asked by officials at a meeting to sign a document barring him from speaking or engaging with any media as a condition of his continued home confinement. Cohen refused, and he was eventually arrested and taken back to prison. Davis says Cohen's legal team had never seen an order like the one his client was asked to sign.

LANNY DAVIS: We're not aware of any precedent. When he was allowed to be under home confinement, nobody mentioned to him, you can't talk to the press. Nobody said, you can't go to a restaurant. He showed up to get his ankle bracelet on. And suddenly, he's handed this piece of paper. We cannot find a precedent that you lose your First Amendment rights when you're under home confinement. The government's only interest is to keep you under restricted surveillance so that you don't escape, and you stay in your home under home confinement.

MARTIN: The New York Times reported getting a copy of the document presented to Mr. Cohen. The purpose of the prohibition, according to the document that was reported by The Times, said - was to, quote, "avoid glamorizing or bringing publicity to your status as a sentenced inmate serving a custodial term in the community." And I wanted to ask if there's any precedent for that.

DAVIS: Yeah, this is worth anyone who understands the English language asking the following question. Is it glamorizing to tell the truth about the president of the United States' wrongdoing? His book is going to tell the truth about 10 years working for Mr. Trump and helping Mr. Trump commit crimes. So this is about Mr. Trump's threatened-with-the-truth attitude. And yet, he rewards Mr. Stone, who said publicly, I decided not to tell the truth about President Trump. And he was rewarded by what I've described as a corrupt commutation yesterday.

MARTIN: Is there any precedent for saying that you don't want someone to profit from the crimes they committed while they remain incarcerated? - because we know many people have written books after they've finished their term of incarceration. But is there any logic to the notion that he should not benefit from the acts that he committed while he remains incarcerated?

DAVIS: Yes. There are laws that somebody who commits a crime should not benefit from the commission of that crime by the publication of a book. It's not being applied here. That was not invoked. The word was glamorizing. And the invocation of Mr. Cohen not receiving profits - the remedy is to take the money back.

But in this case, it's not about taking back the money. It was about not speaking - even speaking for free. If you read the paragraph that we've never seen before, it's about not even allowing your friends and relatives to speak on your behalf. This is about Mr. Trump's fear of the truth.

MARTIN: Lanny Davis is a legal adviser to President Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

Mr. Davis, thanks so much for talking to us once again.

DAVIS: Thank you so much.

MARTIN: We reached out to the U.S. Marshal Service for comment on the circumstances of Michael Cohen's detention, and they have not yet responded to our request.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.