President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of lawsuits against news outlet Buzzfeed and political research firm Fusion GPS over allegations made in a report compiled by a former British intelligence officer. The now famous Steele dossier was commissioned by Fusion GPS and published by Buzzfeed in January 2017.
The report claims Cohen played a “key role in the secret Trump campaign/Kremlin relationship,” and even alleges Cohen meet with Russian government representatives on a secret trip to Prague to coordinate the activities.
During that meeting, Cohen is said to have met with two Russian officials and several Eastern European hackers to discuss how “deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign,” the dossier states.
It is believed that Russian-backed hackers are responsible for the theft of tens of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee as well as high-ranking officials within the Clinton campaign.
Cohen had vehemently denied the allegations writing on Twitter, “I have never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews,” when Buzzfeed made the report public.
Recent reports allege that special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller, has evidence that Cohen did indeed travel to Prague during the summer of 2016. FBI agents, acting on a referral from Mueller investigators, raided Cohen’s offices last week and seized tax documents, business records and correspondence between Cohen and his clients, presumably including President Trump.
Cohen claims the dossier makes false assertions about he and his family. The lawsuits were filed in New York: the case against Fusion GPS and one its co-founder, Glenn Simpson, in federal court, the one against Buzzfeed in state court.
Cohen’s attorney David Schwartz alluded to the resources necessary to sustain litigation as a reason for the cases being dropped.
“The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one,” Schwartz said. “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.”
“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,” BuzzFeed said in a statement. “Its interest to the public is, and always has been, obvious. Today’s news suggests that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer no longer thinks an attack on the free press is worth his time.”
“We welcome, though are not surprised, that Michael Cohen opted to withdraw this meritless complaint rather than face a discovery process that would have forced him to defend his reputation and address the allegations of the Steele dossier under penalty of perjury,” Fusion GPS said in a written statement.
The President is said to be more nervous about the legal issues surrounding Michael Cohen than about the Russia probe. Senators from both sides of the aisle have recently written legislation that would protect Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump and having his investigation prematurely ended.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that no such legislation will be coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
Photo by Ned Potter via Flickr