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Trump lawyer sues Buzzfeed for publication of Steele dossier

[JURIST] Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, filed two defamation lawsuits on Monday regarding BuzzFeed's [media website] publication of the Steele Dossier [materials, PDF], a condemning but unsubstantiated report indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

The first suit [complaint] names BuzzFeed along with four staffers as defendants for the publication of the materials and was filed in the New York Supreme Court [official website], while the second [complaint] was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] against Fusion GPS [official website], its parent company and co-founder Glenn Simpson for compiling the allegedly fallacious information.

In both complaints, Cohen alleges that the dossier contains "blatantly false and defamatory statements" that resulted in "harm to his personal and professional reputation, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities."

The New York state claim alleges that while the Buzzfeed story [text] explicitly stated that the report was unverified, they nevertheless neglected to "determine the veracity of these reports with Plaintiff himself." In the federal suit against Fusion GPS, Cohen alleges that despite containing unverified information the defendants "recklessly placed it [the dossier] beyond their control and allowed it to fall into the hands of media devoted to breaking news on the hottest subject of the day: the Trump candidacy."

Buzzfeed has publicly affirmed its decision to publish the material, claiming it to be clearly within the public interest and looks forward to defend its decision to do so on First Amendment freedom of press grounds. While Fusion GPS has not publicly responded to the lawsuit, a transcript of Glenn Simpson's testimony [transcript, PDF] before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] in August 2017 was released by Senator Diane Feinstein Monday, in which Simpson indicated that a member of the Trump campaign provided information to the FBI that verified some of the claims contained in the dossier.

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