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Trump lawyer Michael Cohen drops lawsuits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS over Steele dossier

Cohen has denied parts of the dossier, a 35-page document compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele
Image: Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, leaving federal court in Manhattan on Thursday.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Michael Cohen, the embattled lawyer for President Donald Trump, has dropped a pair of lawsuits against BuzzFeed and the research firm Fusion GPS over the preparation and publication of a dossier that contained lurid allegations about the president.

Cohen has denied parts of the dossier, a 35-page document compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, in which he is mentioned, particularly details about his wife and her father and claims that Cohen had traveled to Prague. Buzzfeed published the dossier in January 2017.

Cohen's travel has been of particular interest, as the Steele dossier alleges Cohen met with Russian officials in a country in the European Union — which was later reported to have been the Czech Republic. Cohen has denied the meeting ever took place and offered his passport as proof he has never been to Prague.

A recent report from McClatchy said that Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, has found evidence that Cohen did travel to Prague.

Cohen filed the Buzzfeed lawsuit in January in New York, claiming that the "entirely and totally false" allegations in the dossier had damaged his reputation.

In a court document filed Wednesday, Cohen's lawyer, David Schwartz, served notice that the lawsuit against BuzzFeed and four of its employees had been dropped.

Cohen also dropped his lawsuit against Fusion GPS, the research firm that contracted Steele to assemble the dossier, according to various news reports.

Matt Mittenthal, director of communications for BuzzFeed News, said in a statement that the lawsuit never had merit.

"The lawsuits against BuzzFeed over the Steele dossier have never been about the merits of our decision to publish it," Mittenthal wrote.

In a statement, Fusion GPS said, "We welcome, though are not surprised, that Michael Cohen opted to withdraw this meritless complaint rather than face a discovery process that would have forced him to defend his reputation and address the allegations of the Steele dossier under penalty of perjury. With his decision, it appears that Mr. Cohen can now focus on his many other legal travails."

Cohen did not immediately return a request for comment.

BuzzFeed also faces a lawsuit from owners of a Russian bank over the dossier.

BuzzFeed published the dossier in January 2017 and noted at the time that the allegations in the document had not bee substantiated. Still, the publication of the dossier stirred controversy and helped ignite speculation on Trump's connections to Russia.

The dossier has been a hot topic among conservative pundits who have claimed that it is illegitimate and fueled Mueller's investigation.

Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, wrote a New York Times op-ed a year after publishing the dossier in which he defended his decision to make the document public.

"Without the dossier, Americans would have found it difficult to understand the actions of their elected representatives and government officials," he wrote.

Cohen is currently dealing with other legal issues. The FBI raided his office and hotel room last week in search of information about Cohen's $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, which she has claimed was in return for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.