Michael Cohen is up to his eyeballs in legal trouble, especially since the FBI raided his offices. But he could also play a starring role in Mueller’s Russia investigation if the reports in the Steele dossier are confirmed.
To review, Christopher Steele and his sources claimed that Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with Russian officials as the liaison for the Trump campaign after Paul Manafort was fired. While there, the discussions focused on joint payment to the Russian hackers by both the campaign and Russia. If that turns out to be true, it is game, set and match for a criminal conspiracy.
Since the dossier was made public, Cohen has denied that he ever traveled to Prague. But beyond his denials, he filed a libel suit against Buzzfeed, who published the dossier, and Fusion GPS, the firm Steele worked for. Today we learned that he has dropped both law suits.
Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.
Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct.
Cohen’s lawyers are suggesting that he is simply too busy with other legal matters to pursue these cases. But here’s the kicker:
Dropping the suits could help Cohen avoid being questioned by lawyers from Fusion GPS or having to turn over evidence related to the case — both steps that could undercut his defense in the criminal probe.
Adam Davidson tweeted this about the news:
Many people said: there’s no way Cohen was in Prague if he was willing to sue BuzzFeed and FusionGPS over this. He’d be terrified of discovery. https://t.co/iRO5q8bmJP
— Adam Davidson (@adamdavidson) April 19, 2018
As Davidson suggests, filing those law suits convinced a lot of people that Cohen was telling the truth when he denied ever going to Prague, which is a fundamental misreading of how Trump and his associates have used the courts. As USA Today reported prior to the election, Trump has been the plaintiff in 1,900 lawsuits. That invokes a clear pattern of using the legal system for leverage and intimidation.
If the recent McClatchy report is accurate, the Mueller team now has evidence that Cohen’s denials about visiting Prague are a lie. Less than a week after that news broke, the law suits were dropped. Filing them may have convinced the public, but it obviously didn’t work with a federal prosecutor.