Trump drops US$500 million lawsuit against former lawyer Cohen just days before being questioned under oath
Donald Trump dropped the US$500 million lawsuit he filed against his estranged former lawyer Michael Cohen just four days before the former president was due to answer questions under oath in the case.
Trump’s notice of voluntary dismissal was filed on Thursday night in federal court in Miami, with an option to re-file later. It comes at the end of a busy week for Trump, who delayed his deposition in the Cohen suit so he could attend the start of New York state’s civil fraud trial accusing him of inflating the value of his assets by billions of dollars a year to get better terms from banks.
“Once President Trump has prevailed in dealing with the witch hunts against him, he will continue to pursue his claims against Michael Cohen, who rightfully deserves to, and will be held accountable for his unlawful words and actions,” Trump’s spokesman said in a statement.
The decision to abandon the suit, for now, takes one legal matter off Trump’s plate as he seeks re-election to the White House in 2024 in the shadow of six trials, including four criminal prosecutions alleging a wide variety of misconduct. Trump denies wrongdoing in those cases.
Cohen had blasted the lawsuit as a “retaliatory intimidation tactic” and said he’d seek to hold Trump accountable for “his latest abuse of the legal system.”
“Mr Trump’s cowardly dismissal spells the end of this latest attempt to deter me from providing truthful testimony against him,” Cohen said.
Trump had sued Cohen in April for allegedly violating their attorney-client bond and spreading “embarrassing or detrimental” lies. Cohen denied the claims and called the case another frivolous lawsuit by his famously litigious ex-boss.
In a recent statement Cohen said he was planning to personally attend the deposition, which would have forced Trump to answer questions under oath for hours by Cohen’s lawyers.
Cohen is also one of the star witnesses in the New York trial, having gone public in 2019 with claims that Trump exaggerated his net worth to trick financial institutions. Cohen pleaded guilty to crimes including campaign finance violations and bank fraud, and he’s now a vocal critic of Trump.
Public statements by Cohen also helped form the basis for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment of Trump for allegedly falsifying business records tied to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
Trump’s lawyer in August told the judge overseeing his suit against Cohen that he was worried the former president might incriminate himself by handing over documents in the case as required during the usual exchange of evidence.
Trump argued in a court filing at the time that documents sought by Cohen, particularly Trump Organisation financial records, should be covered by a confidentiality order amid the former president’s separate criminal proceedings. Cohen said the evidence should be made public, regardless of any prosecutions.