Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, is suing the Trump Organization for failing to reimburse him millions of dollars for his legal fees, fines and other costs.
Cohen, who testified before Congress last week at an explosive House Judiciary Committee hearing, said in a lawsuit filed Thursday in New York that the Trump Organization had breached a July 2017 agreement under which it agreed to cover the costs Cohen incurred while participating in ongoing investigations into his work for the company.
Cohen is seeking more than $1.9 million in attorneys’ fees as well as an additional $1.9 million that he has been ordered to pay as part of his sentence for crimes he committed while working for Trump.
“All of these amounts were subject to the Trump Organization’s indemnification agreement,” the lawsuit states.
It alleges that after initially paying some of Cohen’s legal fees, the Trump Organization stopped paying him in June 2018, once it “became clear that Mr. Cohen would cooperate in ongoing investigations into his work” on behalf of the company and Trump.
“As a result of the Trump Organization’s unfounded refusal to meet its indemnification obligations under the indemnification agreement, Mr. Cohen has incurred millions of dollars in unreimbursed attorneys’ fees and costs, plus additional indemnifiable amounts, and continues to incur attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with various ongoing investigations and litigation,” the lawsuit states.
Cohen wrote to the Trump Organization in late January 2019 requesting that it reimburse him for all outstanding amounts, but he received no reply, according to the court filing.
“Over the past week, Michael Cohen has proven with documents and facts that the President of the United States has lied and committed crimes,” Lanny J. Davis, an attorney for Cohen, said in a statement. “Stubborn facts backed up by documents, such as signed criminal hush money checks, can’t be ignored — unless you are President Trump and his apologists.”
Davis added that while he is not involved in the lawsuit, he is confident that Cohen “has documents to prove the allegations in this complaint as well.”
A lawyer for the Trump Organization, however, disputed that there was ever a contract between Cohen and the company over his legal fees, written or oral. “It’s an act of desperation,” the lawyer said. He asked not to be named because he was speaking about pending litigation.
Steve Ryan, Cohen’s former lawyer whose invoices are referenced in the suit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cohen is scheduled to begin his three-year prison sentence in May for lying to Congress and financial crimes.
According to people familiar with the matter, a dispute erupted in June over Cohen’s legal debts, which were being paid in part by the Trump Organization. The argument burst into public when it was reported that Cohen would be parting from the Trump Organization legal team, including Ryan, that had been representing him.
House and Senate investigators are interested in discussions that took place in the months surrounding the April 2018 FBI raid of Cohen’s home. Cohen has privately claimed that a pardon was dangled to him by Trump’s representatives, people familiar with the matter say, although he has been unspecific about the timing or substance of the talks.
Alice Crites, Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.