Lawyers for President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen withdrew defamation lawsuits late Wednesday against BuzzFeed and the political research firm Fusion GPS related to a dossier that included claims Cohen helped organize Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
The lawsuits would have required Cohen to submit to an evidence discovery process, forcing him to produce documentation and sworn testimony about his activities before the closely contested election.
Among other things, the dossier alleged that Cohen had traveled to Prague and met with Russian operatives. Cohen has repeatedly denied the allegation, including in a text message Thursday morning. The assertion came from research conducted by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was working for Fusion GPS.
Cohen filed a pair of lawsuits in January, one in federal court and one in state court in New York, claiming he could prove that the allegation was false and had harmed his reputation. BuzzFeed was the first to publish the dossier.
In a statement, Cohen’s lawyer said he continues to deny the allegations but had to concentrate on other legal matters after FBI raids last week on his office, home and hotel room.
On Friday, the Justice Department said Cohen has been “under criminal investigation” over his business dealings.
“The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one,” Cohen’s attorney David Schwartz said. “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.”