Trump sues Michael Cohen, alleging breach of attorney-client relationship
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Former President Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit against his former attorney, Michael Cohen, for more than $500 million, claiming Cohen breached his “fiduciary duty” and attorney-client privileges in order to be “unjustly enriched.”
The suit, filed in federal court in Florida, comes after the former president pleaded not guilty to 34 felony charges last week. Prosecutors in Manhattan allege Trump orchestrated a scheme involving falsifying business records to conceal three payments, including a payment arranged by Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Cohen is a key witness in that case.
Cohen says he ceased to be Trump’s lawyer in 2017, and pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other charges, stating as part of his guilty plea that he and Trump arranged the payment to Daniels to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s complaint alleges Cohen “breached his fiduciary duties” by “revealing (Trump’s) confidences, and spreading falsehoods about (Trump), likely to be embarrassing or detrimental, and partook in other misconduct in violation of New York Rules of Professional Conduct.” And the complaint alleges Cohen “committed these breaches through myriad public statements, including the publication of two books, a podcast series, and innumerable mainstream media appearances.”
An attorney for Cohen accused Trump of “once again using and abusing the judicial system as a form of harassment and intimidation.”
“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,” said the attorney, Lanny Davis. “Mr. Cohen will not be deterred and is confident that the suit will fail based on the facts and the law.”
The lawsuit claims that while serving as then-President Trump’s personal attorney in early 2017, Cohen set up a company called Essential Consultants LLC.
Cohen described that assertion as “inaccurate” in a text message to CBS News, as far as when the company was established. He and the Manhattan D.A. have stated that Essential Consultants was set up earlier, before the presidential election, in October 2016, as a shell company specifically for the purpose of making the payment to Daniels. That payment is at the center of the criminal charges against Trump.