Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole on July 11, 2021, in Dallas.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole on July 11, 2021, in Dallas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS)

Donald Trump urged a judge to toss out a civil suit filed by his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who claims the former president tried to silence him before the 2020 election by extending his stint in prison for lying to Congress.

The U.S. Justice Department, which represents former Attorney General William Barr and other government defendants in the suit, also sought dismissal of the case at a hearing Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.

Cohen claims the former president and Barr rescinded his release to home confinement in the early days of the pandemic, forcing him to spend 16 days in solitary confinement, in retaliation for his plan to write a tell-all book.

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba argued the former president can’t be sued because he was in office at the time of the alleged conduct.

“This is a very clean cut case where absolute immunity does apply,” Habba said.

Asked by the judge if a president would still be immune from a civil suit if he ordered his valet to kidnap a political opponent and hold them for two weeks before an election, Habba replied “absolutely not.” Immunity “doesn’t mean they can go around willy nilly committing crimes,” she said.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, violations of campaign finance laws and lying to Congress — crimes he says he carried out in “coordination with and at the direction of defendant Trump.” In May 2020, Cohen was released to home confinement to avoid getting sick in the crowded prison. But he was abruptly returned to prison after he refused to sign an agreement to not write a book or talk to the media.

“This was the ultimate abuse of power,” Cohen’s lawyer Andrew Laufer told the judge. “It needs to be addressed.”

A few weeks later, a judge ordered the government to send Cohen back to home confinement, ruling that his transfer to prison had been done in retaliation over the lawyer’s plan “to publish a book critical of the president and to discuss the book on social media.”

Cohen ultimately finished his sentence at home in November 2021. He sued Trump and the U.S. a month later, citing claims of false arrest, false imprisonment and negligence against a slew of prison and probation officials. He’s seeking money damages because the confinement conditions allegedly caused high blood pressure, headaches, shortness of breath and anxiety.

After the hearing, Cohen called his treatment “torture.”

“My specific cell was possibly the worst of them, all missing pieces of glass, bathroom not working, flooding, no ventilation, etc, so I disagree with any argument” that it was legal, he said.

Justice Department lawyers argued at the hearing Tuesday that Cohen can’t sue over his treatment in solitary confinement because prison officials are protected when it comes to matters governing “discretionary functions.” The government also argued that Cohen had other means to seek justice, including filing a complaint with the bureau of prison.

Cohen said in court filings that the effort to quash his book was “one instance in a long line of retaliatory measures” taken by Trump and his associates to weaponize the government against his enemies, including attempts to stop similar books by former national security adviser John Bolton and Trump’s niece Mary Trump.

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