MANHATTAN (CN) — President Donald Trump's former attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen sued the Trump Organization on Thursday, demanding that it reimburse his legal expenses from proceedings that have implicated Trump in possible criminal liability and certain longstanding embarrassment.
“As a result of the Trump Organization’s unfounded refusal to meet its indemnification obligations under the indemnification agreement, Mr. Cohen has incurred millions of dollars in unreimbursed attorneys’ fees and costs, plus additional indemnifiable amounts, and continues to incur attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with various ongoing investigations and litigation,” the complaint filed in Manhattan Supreme Court states.
Represented by the Binder and Schwartz law firm, Cohen brought his complaint one day after his final congressional hearing.
The 22-page filing says the Trump Organization agreed to indemnify Cohen for his legal troubles in July 2017, well before the FBI’s raid on his home, hotel and office threw both men into legal jeopardy.
“The Trump Organization and Mr. Cohen were proceeding pursuant to a ‘joint defense’ at that time with respect to the Investigations and other matters,” the complaint states.
That October, according to the complaint, the Trump Organization underwrote the $137,460 that Cohen owed the law firm McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago. Cohen says that sum represented half of what he owed, and that the Trump Organization promised the other half would be paid the next day by the president's campaign.
“In December 2017, with multiple overdue invoices from McDermott pending, the Trump Organization confirmed that it would continue to indemnify Mr. Cohen and pay his attorneys’ fees and expenses in connection with the Investigations, including the outstanding amounts owed to McDermott,” the complaint states. “This affirmation followed a direct appeal to Trump Organization executives Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump by Mr. Cohen regarding the Organization’s repeated delays in paying his attorneys’ fees and expenses.”
Cohen says that the organization continued to “pay all or part of McDermott’s invoices for fees and costs” until May 2018, the month after the raid.
Through June 2018 then, Cohen said the Trump Organization continued to represent to him “that it would continue to indemnify Mr. Cohen and pay his attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with the investigations.”
“The Trump Organization secured the payment of over $1.7 million of Mr. Cohen’s attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in connection with the Investigations and other matters, through direct payments, obtaining funding from the Trump Campaign, and/or securing credits from McDermott,” the complaint states.
Trump started distancing himself from his former fixer in June, according to the lawsuit, amid reports that Cohen was considering cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“I haven’t spoken to Michael in a long time,” Trump told reporters outside the White House shortly after rumors of Cohen’s imminent cooperation. “He’s not my lawyer anymore.”
The following month, Cohen made a decisive break with Trump in his debut interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
Attorneys for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.
Cohen seeks millions in reimbursement for nearly a dozen proceedings, including criminal prosecution by Mueller’s office and the Southern District of New York, civil litigation by adult film actress Stormy Daniels, cooperation in a state probe of the Trump Foundation, and congressional testimony before the House and Senate.
The lawsuit falls one day after the New York Times reported that Cohen sought a pardon from Trump before agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation.
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