Trump and his team are filing a lengthy lawsuit against his former attorney, Michael Cohen, for more than $500 million on the grounds of a breach of the client-attorney relationship and unjust enrichment. The lawsuit alleges that Cohen spread falsehoods about the former president “with malicious intent and to wholly self-serving ends.” Since being Trump’s attorney, Cohen has gone on to publish multiple books and appear in a slew of television interviews to speak foul of Trump, all while alleged to have been ignoring cease and desist letters from Trump’s lawyers. Cohen and his attorney have stated that the lawsuit is pure harassment and is only being filed due to Trump’s fear of the looming “hush money case” indictment.
By Brooke Singman; April 12, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Former President Donald Trump is suing his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen for more than $500 million, alleging a breach of his attorney-client relationship, unjust enrichment, and more, Fox News Digital has learned.
Trump’s legal team filed the more-than 30-page federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Wednesday.
“This is an action arising from [Cohen’s] multiple breaches of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, conversion and breaches of contract by virtue of [Cohen’s] past service as [Trump’s] employee and attorney,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges Cohen breached his attorney-client relationship by “spreading falsehoods” about Trump that were “likely to be embarrassing or detrimental, and partook in other misconduct,” while also breaching contractual terms of a confidentiality agreement he signed as a condition of employment with Trump.
The lawsuit alleges Cohen spread falsehoods about Trump “with malicious intent and to wholly self-serving ends.”
The lawsuit details Cohen’s “myriad of public statements, including the publication of two books, a podcast series, and innumerable mainstream media appearances,” while ignoring “cease and desist” orders.
It claims Cohen has, in recent months, “increased the frequency and hostility of the illicit acts” and “appears to have become emboldened and repeatedly continues to make wrongful and false statements” about Trump through various platforms.
“Such continuous and escalating improper conduct by [Cohen] has reached a proverbial crescendo and has left [Trump] with no alternative but to seek legal redress through this action,” the lawsuit states, adding that Trump has “suffered vast reputational harm as a direct result of [Cohen’s] breaches.”
The lawsuit comes a week after the former president pleaded not guilty in Manhattan court to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in New York, related to alleged hush money payments made ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
A source close to Trump’s legal team says the complaint against Cohen “has nothing to do with the Manhattan DA’s lawless and fact-less case and is a totally separate matter.”
Cohen, in 2018, pleaded guilty to arranging the hush money payments — among other federal charges — ahead of the 2016 presidential election to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, but maintains that Trump directed them.
Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to a financial institution, making false statements to Congress and tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York opted out of charging Trump related to the alleged hush money payments in 2019. The Federal Election Commission dropped its case on the issue in 2021.
When asked for comment, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, told Fox News Digital that “Mr. Trump is once again using and abusing the judicial system as a form of harassment and intimidation against Michael Cohen.”
“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,” Davis said. “Mr. Cohen will not be deterred and is confident that the suit will fail based on the facts and the law.”
Davis added: “Is there anyone in America, aside from a shrinking minority base of believers, who takes Mr. Trump seriously when he files these lawsuits?”
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawsuit details Cohen’s employment as counsel for the Trump Organization, beginning in 2006, and past statements Cohen made about his role working for Trump.
“Among other innumerable positive statements made by [Cohen] about [Trump] and his role as [Trump’s] attorney, [Cohen] described his job as ‘very surreal,’ claiming he had ‘been admiring Donald Trump since high school,'” it asserts.
The lawsuit states that Cohen said Trump was a “‘wonderful man’ who would be ‘an amazing president,’ and someone [Cohen] thought ‘the world of’ as a ‘businessman’ and ‘a boss.'”
“[Cohen] stated that [Trump] was ‘smart’ and ‘the greatest negotiator on the planet,’ and described his own role as the one ‘who protects the President and the family,’ and strongly stated that he ‘would take a bullet’ for Trump,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit points to Cohen’s past statements that Trump “deserved” his “loyalty” because “one man who wants to do so much good with so many detractors against him needs support,” as well as Cohen’s comments calling Trump “an honorable guy.”
The lawsuit also alleges Cohen “unlawfully converted [Trump’s] business property when he fraudulently misrepresented a business expenditure and stated that he was owed an extra $74,000 over the true amount of the expenditure.”
“[Cohen] was reimbursed based on the fraudulent misrepresentation, and accordingly converted $74,000 from [Trump,]” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit cites one of Cohen’s books, “Disloyal,” in which he “by his own account” admits he “‘lied’ about the money he was owed in reimbursement for an expense he made on [Trump’s] behalf, instead ‘loading up’ and ‘sneakily upping [his] bonus’ in order to ‘counter screw’ [Trump].”
Cohen resigned as counsel for the Trump Organization in January 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, but continued to represent him personally until June 2018.
The lawsuit goes on to detail Cohen’s “personal and professional downfall,” citing the FBI’s raid of his home, office and hotel room in April 2018, after a warrant that reportedly included references to Cohen’s father-in-law’s loans to a taxi fleet operator in Chicago, worth tens of millions of dollars.
Cohen’s father-in-law was previously charged with “conspiring to defraud the IRS and pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in connection with accounting practices related to his New York taxi business,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit points to reports that indicated that “prosecutors had evidence that also implicated [Cohen’s] wife in potential criminal activity,” but that she “was never charged.”
The lawsuit points to the federal charges against Cohen, specifically the sentencing memo for U.S. v. Cohen in December 2018, which states that each of the counts he pleaded guilty to “involved deception.” The sentencing judge at the time said Cohen was found guilty of “a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct.”
The lawsuit points to statements made by federal prosecutors, who claimed Cohen’s crimes were “motivated…by personal greed” and effectuated by “repeatedly using his power and influence for deceptive ends.”
“[Cohen’s] improper, self-serving, and malicious statements about his former client, his family members, and his business constitute repeated and substantial violations of his continuing fiduciary obligations as an attorney,” the lawsuit states, “[Cohen] chose to capitalize on his confidential relationship with [Trump] to pursue financial gain and repair a reputation shattered by his repeated misrepresentations and deceptive acts, fueled by his animus toward [Trump] and his family members.”
The lawsuit adds that Cohen “must be held accountable.”
Trump is demanding that Cohen pay “actual, compensatory, incidental, and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but expected to substantially exceed $500,000,000.”
Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer