Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer for President Trump, has sued BuzzFeed News and Fusion GPS over the infamous Steele dossier. “Enough is enough,” Cohen wrote on Twitter in announcing the defamation suits.
According to Bloomberg News, Cohen is suing BuzzFeed, its editor in chief Ben Smith and three reporters who shared bylines on the Jan. 10, 2017 article revealing the dossier. He is also suing Fusion GPS and its founder, Glenn Simpson.
The move comes on the eve of the one-year anniversary of BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the controversial document, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Fusion GPS, which is based in Washington, D.C., hired Steele on behalf of its clients, the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Cohen is accused in the dossier of traveling to Prague in Aug. 2016 as part of a collusion conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
But Cohen, who works as an attorney for Trump Organization, has long denied the allegations, which are made in the dossier by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Shortly after BuzzFeed published the dossier, Cohen denied that he has ever visited Prague or the Czech Republic.
He has also showed BuzzFeed photographs of his passport, which does not include stamps indicating any trips to Czech Republic.
In an interview with The Daily Caller on Monday, prior to filing the lawsuits, Cohen reflected on the dossier upon its one-year anniversary.
“Over the past year there’s been an extraordinary amount of energy expended on the dossier, in the form of investigative resources, by both Democrats and Republicans, and media attention. It’s been nonstop, in fact,” he said.
“The net result of all that time, energy, money and effort is is that the dossier, with respect to allegations that concern me specifically, has consistently been shown to be misleading, misinformed or just flat-out wrong,” he added.
A spokeswoman for BuzzFeed responded to Cohen’s lawsuit by defending its controversial decision to publish the dossier.
“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. Its interest to the public is obvious,” said BuzzFeed spokeswoman Katie Rayford. “We look forward to defending the free press and our First Amendment rights in court.”
In an op-ed published by The New York Times just before news of Cohen’s lawsuit broke, Ben Smith, the BuzzFeed editor, said he was “proud” to have published the dossier.
He argued that the Steele report merited publication because the public had a right to know what information about Trump was being circulated among reporters, lawmakers and U.S. investigators. Fusion GPS disseminated allegations from the dossier to Washington-based reporters for months before BuzzFeed finally published the document.
Fusion has denied providing a copy of the memos to BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed decided to publish its copy of the Steele memos shortly after CNN reported that U.S. intelligence officials had briefed then-Presiden-Elect Trump on allegations in the dossier on Jan. 6, 2017.
The Cohen lawsuit is not the first legal action to be taken against BuzzFeed or Fusion GPS over the dossier.
Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev filed suit against the website in February. Gubarev is accused in a Dec. 13, 2016 Steele memo of using two of his web-hosting companies hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems.
Steele has acknowledged in court filings in London, where he is being sued by Gubarev, that the allegations in that memo had not been verified.
The founders of Alfa Bank, a Russian bank, have sued Fusion GPS over allegations that they engaged in criminal conduct with Vladimir Putin.
Steele has reportedly told associates that he believes that between 70 and 90 percent of the allegations in the dossier are accurate. He has not specified which allegations he believes are inaccurate.