President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen filed a defamation lawsuit against Buzzfeed and Fusion GPS regarding the Russian dossier published about him last January.
The 35-page document, which was written by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, and paid for by Fusion GPS, accuses Michael Cohen of colluding with the Russian government during the 2016 election campaign. It also said Cohen’s wife is Russian and that her father is a well-known property developer in Russia, letting Cohen have an illegal relationship with the Russian government.
“Even though defendant BuzzFeed expressly acknowledged the unverified (and potentially unverifiable) nature of the dossier’s allegations, defendant BuzzFeed published the un-redacted dossier and the article anyway — without attempting to determine the veracity of these reports with plaintiff himself,” Cohen wrote in the lawsuit filed Tuesday night in New York state court.
The lawsuit against Fusion says that the firm “recklessly placed the dossier beyond their control and allowed it to fall into the hands of media devoted to breaking news on the hottest subject of the day: the Trump candidacy.”
Cohen is the closest person to Trump to challenge the dossier’s accusations in court. He told CNN that the allegations against him are based on misinformation and unverifiable sources.
“Their actions are so malicious, despicable and reckless, one can only presume that their motives were intentional,” he said.
Cohen’s attorney, David Schwartz, said they will be seeking the maximum amount of damages for the lies in the dossier.
“We believe in our courts and our system of justice and that when all the facts are in, justice will prevail and Mr. Cohen will be awarded damages against the defendants,” he explained.
Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for BuzzFeed News, said the company will fight the lawsuit and that the dossier included important information that news organizations should release to the public. He added that this isn’t the only time Cohen has attacked the free press and that the company is eager to defend its First Amendment rights in court.
Buzzfeed’s editor, Ben Smith, wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times that he was proud about publishing the dossier. He said that that “keeping the reporting process wrapped in mystery only helps those who oppose the free press.”
“Without the dossier, Americans would have found it difficult to understand the actions of their elected representatives and government officials,” Smith wrote. “Their posture toward Mr. Trump was, we now know even more comprehensively than we did in January 2017, shaped by (ex-British intelligence agent Christopher) Steele’s report. The Russia investigation, meanwhile, didn’t turn out to be some minor side story but instead the central challenge to Mr. Trump’s presidency.”