Cohen drops libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS

Cohen drops libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS

April 19 (UPI) — Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s attorney, dropped a pair of libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed and research firm Fusion GPS over a dossier which implicates him in alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Cohen’s attorney, David Schwartz, said Wednesday that his client was abandoning the lawsuits because he is busy with a legal battle in New York City over an FBI raid of his offices and residence.

“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.”

BuzzFeed was the first to report on the unsubstantiated dossier in January 2017 — a document from Fusion GPS offering salacious details and allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government’s election interference. Cohen was accused of playing a part in the dossier, which was first funded by the Washington Free Beacon and later financed by the Democratic National Committee. It was based on research conducted by former British spy Christopher Steele.

Trump critics say it offers proof of collusion and election meddling, while supporters say it is a fabrication and accuse the FBI of using the unsubstantiated report as evidence to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Cohen has denied some information about himself, his wife and her father in the dossier, including information that he traveled to Prague to meet with Russian officials.

McClatchy reported last week that special counsel Robert Mueller — who is investigating allegations of Russian meddling and Trump campaign collusion — found evidence of Cohen’s travel to Prague.

Both BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS welcomed the news, with the latter saying it’s not surprised that 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.

“If there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans can 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. “Its interest to the public is, and always has been, obvious.”

Last week, the FBI raided the offices and residence of Cohen upon a referral from Mueller, seizing tax and business documents. He’s been in court this week trying to prevent investigators from reviewing documents that are protected by attorney-client privilege.