Michael Cohen on Monday asked a US appeals court to revive his lawsuit against Donald Trump and other government officials, seeking damages for sending him back to prison in retaliation for publishing a tell-all memoir criticizing the former US president.
Lawyers for Cohen said in a filing with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that the judiciary has a responsibility to remediate the harm done by Trump and his subordinates.
"The head of the executive branch wielded his power to have one of his critics silenced, thrown back into prison, and kept in conditions dangerous to his health," Cohen's lawyers wrote. "Where such a grievous injury is done to a citizen's rights and to the nation's rule of law, there must be a remedy."
Cohen is appealing US District Judge Lewis Liman's dismissal of his lawsuit in November.
Liman said that while his decision did "violence" to Cohen's constitutional rights, Cohen was not entitled to damages under US Supreme Court precedent.
Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said the lower court was correct when it dismissed Cohen's "meritless" case.
Cohen in prison
Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and other crimes.
He was released in May 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but thrown back in prison two months later after questioning an agreement that barred the book's publication, communicating with the media and social media.
Another judge ordered Cohen's release 16 days later, finding he had been targeted with retaliation.
The book, "Disloyal: A Memoir" topped the New York Times' hardcover nonfiction best-seller list in September 2020.
Former US Attorney General William Barr and various prison officials are also defendants in Cohen's lawsuit. A spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan, which represented the other defendants, declined to comment.
Cohen is a central witness in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's criminal case against Trump over a $130,000 hush money payment to silence porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts, and said the encounter with Daniels never happened.
He is also suing Cohen for $500 million in damages in federal court in Miami, accusing him of "spreading falsehoods" and failing to keep attorney-client communications confidential.