Trump lawyer sues research firm and Buzzfeed over Russian Federation dossier

Michael Cohen an attorney for President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York in 2016

Trump's private lawyer, Michael Cohen, is suing BuzzFeed for publishing the Russian dossier which defamed him. NBC's Chuck Todd told me on air, "You just published fake news".

The answer came a few hours later, when President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, announced that he had filed a defamation suit against BuzzFeed, and a separate suit against Fusion GPS, the political intelligence firm that commissioned the dossier. While Fusion GPS has not publicly responded to the lawsuit, a transcript of Glenn Simpson's testimony [transcript, PDF] before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] in August 2017 was released by Senator Diane Feinstein Monday, in which Simpson indicated that a member of the Trump campaign provided information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that verified some of the claims contained in the dossier.

In the complaint, which is filed in New York Supreme Court against BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith as well as reporters Ken Bissinger, Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs, Cohen's attorney argues that the allegations are not true.

In response to the lawsuit, a BuzzFeed spokesperson cited Cohen's previous attacks on the free press: "The dossier is, and continues to be, the subject of active investigations by Congress and intelligence agencies". It was presented to two successive presidents, and has been described in detail by news outlets around the world. "As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp". I haven't had a single person approach me to say, "I wish I hadn't read the dossier, and wish I had less insight into the forces at play in America".

The document alleges that Cohen met with Russian officials in the Czech Republic and was involved with covert plans to compensate hackers who aided Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Fusion GPS hired former British spy Christopher Steele to look into Trump's real-estate activities in Russia in a bid to tie Trump to Russian operatives.

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BuzzFeed posted the dossier with a note that its "allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors". McCain then had his associate, David Kramer, travel to London to get briefed on the dossier, and arrange to have a hard copy delivered to then-FBI Director James Comey in December. "Its interest to the public is obvious", Buzzfeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal said in a statement.

"We don't believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling", Simpson and Fritsch wrote.

Of particular interest to the House committee are text messages sent between the FBI agent who initially led the investigation into Trump, Peter Strzok, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Cohen said he told the panels that he never engaged with, was paid by, or communicated with anyone representing the Russian government, or anyone else, about hacking or interfering with the USA election, hacking the Democratic Party, or about creating fake news stories to assist the Trump campaign or to damage the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Cohen stated in his lawsuit that the dossier made false claims about his family ties to Russian Federation, also denying that he flew over there to meet with certain government officials.

Cohen, however, faces an "uphill battle" in court, Seth Berenzweig, founding and managing partner of law firm Berenzweig Leonard, told FOX Business. "Why waste time talking about something that's not legitimate", he said.

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