President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told courts in New York late Wednesday that he’d like to drop defamation lawsuits he filed against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed regarding the production and publication of an infamous dossier on Trump and Russia.
Cohen had sued Fusion, a political research firm, and the media company separately in January, one year after the Russia dossier, which was prepared for Fusion, was published by BuzzFeed. He had alleged that assertions about family ties he had to Russians and a trip he took overseas mentioned in the dossier were wrong, and that they damaged his professional reputation.
By dropping the lawsuits, Cohen will avoid turning over information about himself to the companies.
Cohen had not brought a case against Christopher Steele, an ex-British spy who wrote the dossier as a contractor for Fusion GPS. The dossier was commissioned as opposition research by political opponents of then-candidate Trump. Portions of the dossier remain unconfirmed.
Though the lawsuits generated a great deal of press at the time they were filed, Cohen’s legal team took months to make procedural steps to move the cases forward in court.
His public reputation has also changed significantly, since federal prosecutors in New York announced last week he’s been under criminal investigation for his business dealings.
BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS still face other defamation court claims related to the dissemination of the dossier, from Russian and other foreign businessmen.
Both Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed called Cohen’s lawsuits 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. Its interest to the public is, and always has been, obvious,” BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal wrote in a statement following Cohen’s dismissal of the case. “Today’s news suggests that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer no longer thinks an attack on the free press is worth his time.”
A statement from Fusion GPS said the research firm welcomed Cohen’s choice not to “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. With his decision, it appears that Mr. Cohen can now focus on his many other legal travails.”
Cohen’s attorneys didn’t respond to requests for comment Thursday morning.