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Cohen files lawsuit to recoup legal costs

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Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for President Donald Trump, sued the Trump Organization on Thursday. He accused the company of breaking a contract when it refused to pay about US$1.9 million in legal costs after he began cooperating with federal prosecutors.

[NEW YORK] Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for President Donald Trump, sued the Trump Organization on Thursday. He accused the company of breaking a contract when it refused to pay about US$1.9 million in legal costs after he began cooperating with federal prosecutors.

The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, said that the Trump Organization had failed to live up to an agreement to pay for any legal fees or related costs Mr Cohen incurred in his work with the Trump Organization.

Mr Cohen is also seeking reimbursement for an additional US$1.9 million he was ordered to pay in fines, forfeiture and restitution after he pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws, evading taxes and lying to Congress, the lawsuit said.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

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The lawsuit said Mr Cohen and the Trump Organization had entered an agreement under which the company would pay for Mr Cohen's legal fees and costs arising from investigations being conducted by Congress and by Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is examining Russian interference in the 2016 election.

When the deal was made in July 2017, Mr Cohen had become a person of interest in both investigations because of his work on a project to build a Trump-branded skyscraper in Moscow at the same time that Trump was running for president.

He had also drawn attention for arranging hush-money payments during the 2016 election to two women who had claimed they had affairs with the president.

As a result, Mr Cohen hired lawyers, and the Trump Organization, then run by Trump's sons, Eric and Donald Jr., promised to pay them, the lawsuit said.

The company initially honoured the deal, paying a portion of Mr Cohen's legal fees and promising to pay more, even as investigators stepped up their pressure on Mr Cohen and raided his office in April 2018, according to the lawsuit.

Then, last June, as Mr Cohen began telling people close to him that he would be willing to cooperate with Mueller's investigation, the Trump Organization abruptly stopped paying Mr Cohen's lawyers, according to the lawsuit.

NYT