Former President Donald Trump won’t face repercussions over his apparent direction of federal prison guards to jail and silence his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen promises to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, calling the outcome “wrong if democracy is to prevail.”
No legal remedy
In a recent order, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York affirmed a decision by a federal judge to dismiss the case, because the law does not provide a remedy for most claims that a person was jailed in retaliation for their criticisms of a president. The three-judge panel denied Cohen the legal remedy available to those abused by federal agents.
Initial prison release was sufficient
However, the panel did acknowledge that Cohen was thrown back in prison on weak reasoning and that the case had only been resolved through intervention by a judge who eventually ordered Cohen’s release. It said that Cohen had already obtained relief, and the law did not provide an outlet for any more relief than his initial release.
The judges ruled that this initial intervention prevents Cohen from holding Trump and various government agents to account, citing the 1971 Supreme Court case Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents.
End of the road
The eight-page appellate ruling could end Cohen’s case, which publicized the lengthy personal feud between Trump and his former attorney, who he once trusted with his secrets.
Paying off Stormy
Cohen served a year of this three-year sentence after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
The charges followed an investigation into Trump’s arrangement of hush money to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about a one-night affair. Cohen said the former president directed him to arrange the payoff to fend off the damage to his 2016 campaign.
In and out
As Cohen served his sentence in New York, he worked on his book Disloyal. When he was freed early to home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was returned to prison weeks later when authorities accused him of failing to accept the terms of his release.
Cohen wanted answers
Cohen said at the time that he had been seeking clarification of a condition that forbade him from speaking with the media, using social media, and publishing his book.
Severe solitary symptoms
After serving 16 days in solitary confinement, which Cohen said left him with severe anxiety, shortness of breath and headaches, he was freed on the orders of a judge who said he had been jailed in retaliation for his desire to publish Disloyal, a book critical of the president.
“He spent roughly twenty-three and a half hours a day alone with poor ventilation and no air conditioning,” appellate judges acknowledged in their recent order.
But the judges wouldn’t allow Cohen to seek retribution against the federal agents or allow him to seek evidence showing Trump misusing the power of the office to seek vengeance against his former lawyer.
Cohen’s legal defeats
Cohen initially sued in December 2021, arguing his rights were violated, blaming Trump, then-Attorney Bill Barr and the federal agents. A federal judge dismissed his case in November 2022. The recent appellate ruling sided with the judge.
In a statement, Cohen said he will appeal to the Supreme Court. “The outcome is wrong if democracy is to prevail. A writ of habeas corpus cannot be the only consequence to stop a rogue president from weaponizing the Department of Justice from locking up his/her critics in prison because they refuse to waive their First Amendment right,” he said.
Trump’s legal team gloats
Alina Habba, Trump’s lawyer, said in a statement: “We are very pleased with today’s ruling. Mr. Cohen’s lawsuit was doomed from its inception. We will continue to fight against any frivolous suits aimed at our client.”