Michael Cohen is now a prisoner rights advocate. As someone who has run a prisoner project for decades, it came as something of a surprise to me but Cohen is now a reformer . . . just ask Tony Meatballs. The reference came up in an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber in which Cohen explained that he only filed for early release under the First Step Act (Trump’s much touted criminal justice reform bill) because he promised “my buddies Tony Meatballs and Big Minty, that I wasn’t going to stop once I got out” in seeking to reform our prisons. You see, it is really not for Mike Cohen. It is for Tony Meatballs.
For full disclosure, I have been a critic of Cohen long before he broke with the President. His conduct as an attorney was a disgrace to the bar for years. Cohen has been gaming the system his entire career. He claimed urgent medical needs for release from prison. Of course, he previously claimed health problems in failing to appear to testify only to be spotted out on the town for a fancy dinner. Cohen previously (and implausibly) reinvented himself as a redemptive sinner and received financial support from Trump critics.
Now he is repackaging himself as a prison reformer. It is only a coincidence that his prison reforms benefit . . . Michael Cohen.
It continues to be impressive how Cohen was able to be immediately rehabilitate himself with the media by turning against Trump. Like John Bolton (who was persona non grata until he became a Trump foe), Cohen went from Trump thug to truth teller with a single flip. While MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell (and recently Jake Tapper) have pledged not to interview Trump figures because they are liars, Cohen and other former Trump associates remain popular guests despite histories of lies and fraud.
In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to nine counts including tax evasion and fraud and was sentenced to three years in federal prison. He served time at Otisville Correctional Facility in upstate New York — considered one of the most accommodating federal facilities.
However, Cohen said he is a new man because “One of the things I said I would continue to do is fight for prison reform” and, consistent with his prior history, he found the reform begins with his own self-interest.
Cohen insists that he earned the benefits under the First Step Act by taking classes like “Drug Education: Freedom from Drugs,” “Health/Fitness,” “Victim Impact,” and “Business Start-Up.” He also cited 500 hours of work at Water Treatment and the Pipe Shop H.V.A.C.
Cohen “first step” sounds a lot like his past steps in seeking every benefit for himself.
Yet, no one would be prouder than Tony Meatballs.