President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has dropped a pair of libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over the publication of the now-infamous “Trump dossier.”
The suits, filed in January, center around the controversial release of the documents composed by former British spy Christopher Steele, who claimed there was a connection between President Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.
The dossier notoriously made mention of a “pee tape” — a video that allegedly shows Trump watching prostitutes urinate on a bed President Obama supposedly slept on — as well as an August 2016 meeting in Prague between Cohen and Kremlin officials. The President’s personal attorney has denied the meeting ever occurred.
“The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one,” Cohen’s attorney, David Schwartz, said in a statement to Politico.
“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.”
Matt Mittenthal, director of communications for BuzzFeed News, however, rejected the libel suits had any value at all.
“The lawsuits against Buzzfeed over the Steele dossier have never been about the merits of our decision to publish it,” Mittenthal 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.”
Two sources familiar with the Justice Department special investigation however, recently told McClathy Robert Mueller had uncovered evidence of Cohen’s late-summer trip to Prague, which could lend credence to the often-contested dossier.
Fusion GPS was the political research firm behind the dossier, which BuzzFeed would go on to publish just ahead of Trump’s inauguration. The online outlet noted the allegations had not been substantiated, but it still rocked the political world and claimed dozens of headlines.
“Without the dossier, Americans would have found it difficult to understand the actions of their elected representatives and government officials,” BuzzFeed News Editor in Chief Ben Smith wrote in a New York Times op-ed a year after it was published.
Its publication remains highly controversial, particularly among conservatives who believe the claims are false and wrongfully sparked Mueller’s special investigation.
Cohen’s move to dismiss Wednesday comes amid his fight to recover documents and electronic files seized by federal agents. The FBI raided his hotel room and office last week as part of a broad criminal investigation into his personal business dealings, which is in part focused on Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The X-rated actress has claimed she received the funds in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago.
One of Trump’s legal advisers, Jay Goldberg, has warned the President that Cohen is likely to turn on him should he face criminal charges stemming from the raid.
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