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Donald Trump sues longtime fixer Michael Cohen for over $500 million

The ex-lawyer provided critical grand jury testimony that led up to Trump's criminal indictment, but Trump says the issue is the money Cohen made from the publication of two books, a podcast series and media appearances.

(CN) — Embattled former President Donald Trump sued his former personal attorney Michael Cohen on Wednesday, accusing his longtime “fixer” of breach of contract.

The 32-page federal complaint accuses Cohen of seeking to make money and gain notoriety by disseminating false information about Trump and breaching his contractual obligations to the former president in public statements, published books, podcast series and other media appearances. Trump brought the suit not in New York, where he was indicted last week on 34 criminal counts, but in the Southern District of Florida, where the former president has taken up residency at his resort home Mar-a-Lago.

Represented by the Coral Gables-based commercial litigator Alejandro Brito, Trump contends that Cohen breached the fiduciary duties he owes Trump by virtue of their attorney-client relationship by “both revealing Plaintiff’s confidences, and spreading falsehoods.”

Cohen, once considered among the most loyal figures in Trump's inner circle, is expected to be the key witness in the New York criminal proceedings. He met with Manhattan prosecutors some 20 times in the hush money investigation, culminating in early March with two afternoons of testimony before the 23-person special grand jury that ultimately voted to indict former commander-in-chief.

Seeking damages from Cohen in excess of $500 million, Trump focuses not on the grand jury testimony his now-disbarred ex-lawyer gave but instead on the statements Cohen shared on his podcast, which is titled "Mea Culpa."

"In the more than 250 episodes of the Podcast produced to date, Defendant repeatedly and consistently reveals, or purports to reveal, confidential information gleaned by nature of his prior attorney-client relationship with Plaintiff, as well as information pertaining to Plaintiff’s personal and private life," the complaint states.

Trump, who faces his own $250 million civil lawsuit for falsely inflating his net worth by billions of dollars for more favorable loan terms, also accuses Cohen in the Miami complaint of trumping up a $13,000 expenditure into a $50,000 reimbursement payment.

Cohen’s longtime attorney Lanny Davis quickly repudiated the former president’s lawsuit as a familiar pattern of shallow litigation, certain to be tossed out “based on the facts and the law.”

“Mr. Trump appears once again to be using and abusing the judicial system as a form of harassment and intimidation against Michael Cohen,” Davis said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “It appears he is terrified by his looming legal perils and is attempting to send a message to other potential witnesses who are cooperating with prosecutors against him.

“Is there anyone in America, aside from a shrinking minority base of believers, who takes Mr. Trump seriously when he files these apparently frivolous lawsuits,” Cohen’s lawyer taunted.

The Florida lawsuit is the latest effort by Trump to weapoinze the legal system to go after his political enemies and is another example of the former president turning on a once-loyal aide after their relationship imploded.

A judge in Florida sanctioned Trump and one of his New Jersey-based attorneys in January, ordering them to pay nearly $1 million for bring complaints against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, which the judge deemed misleading and filed in bad faith.

As his indictment loomed last month, Trump fumed on his Truth Social platform in an effort to undermine Cohen's credibility.

“Remember, Michael Cohen was a lawyer who also represented clients other than me, and who did business transactions for himself, like Taxi Cab Medallions, etc. I had nothing to do with his outside businesses,” Trump posted.

Cohen already went to prison for paying off the porn actress Stormy Daniels in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election to keep her from going public about an extramarital affair she claimed to have had with Trump. The indictment of Trump, and the more-detailed summary of facts filed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, ties the former president to that known criminal conspiracy with allegations that he repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal both the payments to Daniels and to another woman, Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.

Trump did not make the payments himself, but his company made a log of "legal expenses" when it reimbursed Cohen, who personally cut Daniels a check for $130,000 from Essential Consultants, a shell entity formed just weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

The former president has repeatedly denied any affair with Daniels or McDougal, and insists the payments to the women were a private matter that did not amount to campaign finance violations.

Trump pleaded not guilty last week to all counts in the Manhattan criminal case, and was released on his own recognizance after his arrest. The next hearing in the case is set for December 2023.

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Categories / Civil Rights, Law, National

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