Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be released due to coronavirus outbreak - sources

(Reuters) - Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to U.S. President Donald Trump, will be released early from prison because of the coronavirus pandemic, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters late on Thursday.

Cohen, who has served less than one year of a three-year sentence, will serve the rest of his time in home confinement, one of the sources said. Before his release, he will have to undergo a two-week quarantine to ensure he does not have symptoms of COVID-19, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

Roger Adler, Cohen’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said that as of Thursday night Cohen was still incarcerated in the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution.

A spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for directing hush payments to pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump. The U.S. president has denied having the encounters.

Cohen, 53, was sent to a minimum-security camp at Otisville in upstate New York, about 70 miles (110 km) northwest of New York City.

He had pressed to be released early due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hammered New York state and surfaced in prisons around the country.

Last month, a federal judge denied the request, saying Cohen should accept the consequences of his crimes rather than invoke the pandemic to justify his freedom.

“Ten months into his prison term, it’s time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far reaching institutional harms,” U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan wrote.

The judge said that Cohen’s attempt to “single himself out for release to home confinement appears to be just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle.”

Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Aram Roston in Washington, Writing by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Noeleen Walder