NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump has dropped his $500 million lawsuit against Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer who is now a key witness in a criminal case against him, Cohen and a Trump spokesperson said Thursday night. But the former president did not waive his right to sue again.
Trump had accused Cohen of “spreading falsehoods” “with malicious intent” and causing “vast reputational harm” for talking publicly about hush-money payments made to women during Trump’s 2016 campaign that are at the heart of criminal charges he faces in New York. Trump has also accused Cohen of breaking a confidentiality agreement that he signed as a condition of his employment.
The former president and GOP front-runner’s decision comes days before he was set to give a deposition in the suit brought in April in Florida. That testimony was originally set for Oct. 3, but Trump rescheduled so he could attend the first three days of a separate New York civil fraud trial. Cohen is likely to testify in that trial next week.
A Trump spokesperson said Trump had decided “to temporarily pause” the suit against Cohen as he mounts another campaign for the White House and fights criminal charges in four separate jurisdictions, but said he would refile at a later date.
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“Given that President Trump is required to sit for deposition in a civil matter on Columbus Day, when he is scheduled to be in the Great State of New Hampshire, and while the President is fighting against the meritless claims that have been lodged against him in New York, Washington D.C., Florida, and Georgia, as well as continuing his winning campaign … President Trump has decided to temporarily pause his meritorious claims against Michael Cohen,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson added that once Trump “has prevailed in dealing with the witch hunts against him, he will continue to pursue his claims against Michael Cohen, who rightfully deserves to, and will be held accountable for his unlawful words and actions just as the Southern District of New York held him accountable for numerous non-Trump related acts and crimes, making Cohen a very ‘proud’ felon.”
Cohen, meanwhile, celebrated the decision, calling the suit “nothing more than a retaliatory intimidation tactic.”
“Mr. Trump’s cowardly dismissal spells the end of this latest attempt to deter me from providing truthful testimony against him,” Cohen said in a statement. “My legal team and I now look forward to turning our full attention to holding Mr. Trump accountable for his latest abuse of the legal system. More to come.”
The lawsuit, filed in Miami, had offered a preview of arguments that are sure to be featured in Trump’s defense against charges that he falsified internal business records to disguise payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of extramarital sexual encounters.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.