World News

Michael Cohen sues Trump Organization for unpaid legal fees

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, on Thursday sued the Trump Organization, saying it reneged on its obligation to reimburse him for millions of dollars of legal fees and costs related to his work.

In a complaint filed in the New York state supreme court in Manhattan, Cohen said the Trump Organization stopped paying him last May after it became clear he would cooperate with various probes into his work.

These include Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as multiple congressional probes.

Cohen said the Trump Organization owes him at least $3.8 million, and its failure to pay breached a reimbursement agreement that predated his cooperation.

The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

Rudolph Giuliani, an adviser to Trump and former New York City mayor, suggested in an interview that Cohen was owed nothing.

“You’re getting in trouble because you work for me, you’re getting reimbursed,” Giuliani said. “You’re getting in trouble for your own stuff, I can’t reimburse you.”

Thursday’s lawsuit marks a further break for Cohen, Trump’s longtime “fixer,” from his former boss.

It came as Cohen, 52, prepares this spring to begin a three-year prison term, following his guilty plea to campaign finance violations.

Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks to reporters he departs with his attorney and advisor Lanny Davis after testifying before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

These included “hush money” payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

The president has denied their claims. He has also said his campaign did not collude with Moscow.

According to the complaint, Cohen and the Trump Organization entered the July 2017 reimbursement agreement when they were pursuing a “joint defense” to various investigations.

The organization reaffirmed its payment obligations in December 2017 after Cohen complained to Trump’s adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who both worked there, about “repeated delays,” according to the complaint.

Cohen said he has employed at least seven law firms in the last year on matters related to Trump.

He said these include two lawsuits by Daniels, the New York attorney general’s lawsuit concerning Trump’s namesake charity, the Mueller and congressional probes, and his criminal case.

The alleged missed reimbursements include $1.9 million for legal fees and costs, plus another $1.9 million that Cohen owes in his criminal case.

Cohen this week completed meetings with congressional investigators looking into Trump’s activities.

Testifying on Feb. 27 before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cohen called Trump a “con man” and “cheat,” but offered no direct evidence that Trump or his campaign colluded with Moscow in the 2016 election.

The case is Cohen v Trump Organization LLC, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 651377/2019.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown