Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s besieged attorney and “fixer”, has dropped his libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS. The suits were over allegations made in the Steele dossier that detail Trump’s connections with Russia and accuse Cohen of traveling to Prague to meet with Russian operatives during the campaign. BuzzFeed published a story about the dossier, which was a series of memos written by Christoper Steele while working for Fusion GPS, in January 2016.
“The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one,” Cohen’s attorney David 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.”
In statements, both BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS said the suit was without merit.
“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 News said in a statement.
In a separate statement, Fusion GPS said: “With his decision, it appears that Mr. Cohen can now focus on his many other legal travails.”
Cohen has denied traveling to Prague, producing his passport as proof that he had never traveled there.
The news of the lawsuit comes at a time when Cohen is embroiled in legal battles involving a $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels, the porn star claiming an affair with the President in 2006, and a wide ranging criminal probe after his home and office were raided by the FBI. It also comes after recent reports say Special Counsel Mueller has proof that Cohen did travel to Prague in the time frame the dossier alleges.
Why it Matters:
This move allows Cohen to avoid the process of discovery, answering questions and producing evidence, which could hurt him in the FBI criminal probe. Trump associates have expressed concern that Cohen will “flip” on the President, which makes this case worth watching closely.