Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS

Saul Bowman
April 21, 2018

Daniels wants to void a contract she signed days before the 2016 general election in which she agreed to stay quiet about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump.

Judge S. James Otero gave Cohen's attorney until Wednesday to file a declaration by Cohen himself indicating whether his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could be at issue in the civil case due to an ongoing criminal investigation in NY.

At one point during Friday's hearing in downtown Los Angeles, Cohen's attorney, Brent Blakely, appeared to concede the possibility his client might be indicted in the next three months. "The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a hard one", Gerstman Schwartz name attorney David Schwartz said in a statement.

But Otero said that he needed more time to consider the request because "there's some gaping holes" in it. He called a declaration by Cohen "probably a necessary component" in reaching that decision.

Cohen sought to delay the civil case 90 days after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided his NY office and residence, seeking records about the $130,000 agreement that Daniels signed days before the 2016 presidential election.

"You're going to make sure that it's more than just a bare-bones case", Otero added.

Otero, speaking from his experience on the bench and without knowledge of the investigation, said it was "substantially likely" there would be some criminal action.

Were Cohen completely loyal to the president, Trump would have less to worry about.

"They took everything and they still have it", he said.

Otero agreed, saying several times that Daniels was "undeterred".

"He clearly doesn't think that Michael Cohen is his Roy Cohn", said Tim O'Brien, a Trump biographer, referring to Mr. Trump's former mentor and the president's ideal for a pit bull-like defender.

Dropping the suits could help Cohen avoid being questioned by lawyers from Fusion GPS or having to turn over evidence related to the case - both steps that could undercut his defense in the criminal probe.

Were that to happen, Blakely said, "my client would have to assert the 5th to practically everything". During a Tuesday appearance on ABC's "The View", she and Avenatti also announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the man.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY is investigating Cohen's business dealings, after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents last week seized documents from Cohen's Manhattan offices relating to the Daniels payment and other issues. According to sources, investigators were seeking information about a range of issues, including Cohen's 2016 hush agreement with Daniels.

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