Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, is suing BuzzFeed for publishing the Russia dossier in 2016 without corroborating the claims.
The New York attorney filed the defamation suit Tuesday, a day shy of a year since BuzzFeed shared the explosive claims that Russia was cultivating Trump as a political asset with the help of compromising information.
Cohen derided the “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia” report published on Jan. 10, 2017, as “false, damaging, and highly inflammatory.”
The basis of Cohen’s argument lies with BuzzFeed editors acknowledging that details in the 35-page dossier, compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, were unverified and “potentially unverifiable.”
“BuzzFeed published the un-redacted Dossier and the Article anyway — without attempting to determine the veracity of these reports with the Plaintiff himself,” lawyers for Cohen wrote, according to the state Supreme Court filing.
Cohen is seeking unspecified compensation and punitive damages in the suit, which lists reporter Ken Bensinger, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, and the editors who worked on the story, Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs, as defendants.
BuzzFeed spokeswoman Katie Rayford defended the site’s decision to publish the dossier as newsworthy, and a catalyst for government inquiries.
“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,” Rayford wrote. “Its interest to the public is obvious. This is not the first time Trump’s personal lawyer has attacked the free press, and we look forward to defending our First Amendment rights in court.”
Smith stood by BuzzFeed’s reporting in an editorial Tuesday in the New York Times. A source told the Daily News the editor-in-chief did not know Cohen was prepping a lawsuit against him at the time his op-ed was published.
“We strongly believed that publishing the disputed document whose existence we and others were reporting was in the public interest,” Smith wrote in his opinion piece.
In a tweet announcing his lawsuit, Cohen again slammed the dossier as “fake.”
“Just filed a defamation action against @BuzzFeedNews for publishing the lie filled document on @POTUS @realDonald Trump and me,” Cohen wrote.
With Stephen Rex Brown