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Politics

Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen to Be Released from Prison

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen will be released from federal prison Thursday and is expected to serve the remainder of his sentence at home, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

Cohen has been serving a federal prison sentence at FCI Otisville in New York after pleading guilty to numerous charges, including campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress. 

He will be released on furlough with the expectation that he will transition to home confinement to serve the remainder of his sentence at home, the person said. Cohen, 53, began serving his sentence last May and was scheduled to be released from prison in November 2021. 

The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. 

Prison advocates and congressional leaders have been pressing the Justice Department for weeks to release at-risk inmates ahead of a potential outbreak, arguing that the public health guidance to stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from other people is nearly impossible behind bars.

Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons in March and April to increase the use of home confinement and expedite the release of eligible high-risk inmates, beginning at three prisons identified as coronavirus hot spots. Otisville is not one of those facilities.

Cohen was told last month he would be released to serve the rest of his three-year sentence at home in response to concerns about coronavirus. He had told associates he was expecting to be released earlier this month. 

The Bureau of Prisons has placed him on furlough as it continues to process a move to home confinement, the person familiar with the matter said. The agency has the authority to release inmates on furlough for up to 30 days and has been doing so to make sure suitable inmates, who are expected to transition to home confinement, can be moved out of correctional facilities sooner, the person said. 

A federal judge had denied Cohen's attempt for an early release to home confinement after serving 10 months in prison and said in a ruling earlier this month that it "appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle." But the Bureau of Prisons can take action to move him to home confinement without a judicial order.

The Bureau of Prisons said last week that more than 2,400 inmates had been moved to home confinement since Barr first issued his memo on home confinement in late March, and 1,200 others had been approved and were expected to be released in the coming weeks. 

Other high-profile inmates have also been released as the number of coronavirus cases soars in the federal prison system. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released on home confinement last week. Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rose to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against Trump, was temporarily freed from a federal jail in New York City and is staying at a friend's house in Los Angeles. 

Former New York state Senate leader Dean Skelos, 72, who was also serving a sentence at Otisville, was released on home confinement after testing positive for the coronavirus. 

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