Former President Donald Trump has filed a more than $500 million lawsuit against his former attorney, Michael Cohen, claiming Cohen breached his “fiduciary duty” and attorney-client privilege to become “unjustly enriched.”
The suit, filed in federal court in Florida, came later The former president is not guilty 34 felony charges last week. Manhattan prosecutors alleged that Trump orchestrated a scheme to falsify business records to conceal three payments, including one arranged by Cohen, to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Cohen is the main witness in the case.
Cohen said he stopped being Trump’s lawyer in 2017, and pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges in 2018, saying as part of his guilty plea that he and Trump arranged to pay Daniels to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Trump’s complaint alleges Cohen “breached his fiduciary duty” by “disclosing (Trump’s) confidences and disseminating falsehoods about (Trump), likely to be embarrassing or damaging, and engaged in other misconduct in violation of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.” And the complaint alleges Cohen “committed these violations through numerous public statements, including the publication of two books, a podcast series and numerous mainstream media appearances.”
An attorney representing Cohen accused Trump of “once again using and abusing the justice system to harass and intimidate.”
“It appears that he is terrified of his legal jeopardy and is trying 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 case will fail on the facts and the law.”
The lawsuit claims that in early 2017, while serving as then-President Trump’s personal attorney, Cohen set up a company called Essential Consultants LLC.
Cohen described the claim in a text message to CBS News as “false,” as far as the company was founded. He and the Manhattan DA said Essential Consultants had been set up as a shell company earlier, before the presidential election, in October 2016, specifically for the purpose of paying Daniels. The payment is at the center of criminal charges against Trump.