Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, has dropped his libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed and research firm Fusion GPS but still continues to face other legal troubles.
Mr Cohen had sued the two separately over the January 2017 release of the now infamous dossier written by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, prepared for the political research firm and published by the news outlet. He alleged the dossier contained false information regarding his family ties to Russia and details about a trip he took to the country.
He claimed the information ruined his reputation. Mr Cohen’s attorney David Schwartz said in a statement to Politico: “The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one. We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr Cohen’s rights was — and still remains — important. But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits”.
The 35-page dossier, which had been commissioned by Fusion GPS as political opposition research and paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, had laid out a host of unverified pieces of information about the US President’s possible ties to Russia, including the claim that he solicited prostitutes during a visit to Moscow.
It also stated that Mr Cohen met with Russian operatives in Europe, possibly Prague “to attend a meeting to “clean up the mess” created by public disclosures of other Trump associates’ reported ties to Russia,” Politico reported.
Mr Cohen has denied having any such meeting. BuzzFeed News said in a statement after the defamation suit was dropped that “if there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on today, it’s that the dossier was an important part of the government’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia”.
Fusion GPS said in its statement: “With his decision, it appears that Mr. Cohen can now focus on his many other legal travails”.
The beleaguered lawyer has admitted to paying nearly $130,000 of his own money just before the November 2016 election to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, as part of a nondisclosure agreement after the president and Ms Daniels allegedly had an affair in 2006.
Ms Daniels is suing Mr Trump for the right to speak about the affair, claiming that Mr Trump never actually signed the document. The president has denied the affair and Mr Cohen has repeatedly said that what he did was legal.
He is also tied to the ongoing FBI investigation into alleged collusion between Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russian officials. Bureau agents raided Mr Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room last week and though it does not appear the seizure of documents was directly related to the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, it was based on a referral from him to New York prosecutors.
He commented to CNN that the raid was “upsetting to say the least” and said after seeing what the investigation has done to his family, in hindsight he would have handled the payment to Ms Daniels differently.
Michael Avenatti, attorney to Ms Daniels, has filed a motion in the lawsuit to depose Mr Trump and Mr Cohen that is scheduled to be heard on 30 April. He also filed a motion asking for a jury trial no more than 90 days from 27 March. “We expect to be placing the president and his fixer under oath in the coming months,” Mr Avenatti said.