Just when you were sure – sure – that things couldn’t get any worse (and/or absurd) on the legal front for Donald Trump, they do.
A day after Michael Cohen delivered what one can only assume was more incriminating testimony on Capitol Hill (during yet another session with the House Intelligence Committee), Trump’s former attorney and trusted fixer is now suing the Trump Organization.
If you’re wondering whether that’s as funny as it sounds, the answer is most assuredly “yes”.
Cohen contends that the Trump Org failed to reimburse him for some $1.9 million in legal fees associated with his various trials and tribulations (and you can take “trials” both figuratively and literally there).
“The Trump Organization agreed to indemnify Mr. Cohen and to pay attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by Mr. Cohen in connection with various matters arising from Mr. Cohen’s work with and on behalf of the Organization,” the complaint, filed in state court in Manhattan reads. Here’s more:
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 Trump Organization’s failure, without any reasonable basis, to pay Mr. Cohen’s attorneys’ fees and costs and other amounts incurred by Mr. Cohen in service to and at the behest of the Organization and its principals, directors, and officers, constitutes a breach of the Trump Organization’s indemnification obligations under the indemnification agreement.
Additionally, by failing to indemnify Mr. Cohen, as required under the indemnification agreement, only after it became clear that Mr. Cohen would cooperate in ongoing investigations into his work for the Trump Organization and its principals, directors, and officers, the Trump Organization breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the indemnification agreement.
As noted above, this comes a day after Cohen wrapped up another tell-all session with lawmakers during which he (Cohen) provided fresh documents that reportedly show edits to the false statement he delivered to Congress in 2017.
More to the point, Cohen’s suit against the Trump Org. coincides with more controversy around the pardon issue.
Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday revealed that he had been approached by attorneys representing multiple people under the microscope thanks to their ties to Trump’s campaign and presidency. Those lawyers, Rudy says, were seeking pardons on behalf of their clients.
That revelation came just two days after the Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen lawyer Stephen Ryan “raised the possibility of a pardon with attorneys for the president and his company” following the raid on Cohen’s properties last year. Lawyers involved in the discussions on Trump’s side included Jay Sekulow, Joanna Hendon and Giuliani.
All three of those folks “dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time”, the Journal said, but Rudy apparently “left open the possibility that the president could grant Cohen one in the future.”
Last week, during closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill, lawmakers badgered Cohen about possible pardon discussions. According to sources who spoke to the Washington Post, Congress is highly interested in “any discussions about possible pardons which they view as a potentially ripe area of inquiry into whether anyone sought to obstruct justice.”
“The discussions acknowledged by Giuliani demonstrate that, at the very least, some of those under investigation, or their lawyers, believed that it was worthwhile to inquire about whether a pardon was on the table”, The New York Times wrote on Wednesday evening, adding that “Giuliani [has] always insisted to defense lawyers that Trump would not consider granting pardons until the investigations were long over.”
According to sources who spoke to ABC for a story out overnight, two lawyers claiming to be in close contact with Giuliani reached out to Cohen last year following the FBI raid on his residences. Those sources told ABC that the effort was designed to convince Cohen not to turn on Trump or otherwise cooperate against the president. To wit:
The sources familiar with the contacts said the two lawyers first reached out to Cohen late in April of last year and that the discussions continued for about two months. The attorneys, who have no known formal ties to the White House, urged Cohen not to leave [a joint defense agreement with the president and others] and also offered a Plan B. In the event Cohen opted to exit the agreement, they could join his legal team and act as a conduit between Cohen and the president’s lawyers.
At one point in the discussions, one of the attorneys sent Cohen a phone screenshot to prove they were in touch with Giuliani, the sources said.
Obviously, that sounds like an effort to “dangle” a pardon in front of Cohen, something prosecutors are reportedly investigating.
ABC’s sources noted that while there was no explicit promise of a pardon, the implicit message was that “if Cohen hired these lawyers, it could preserve or increase his chances of a pardon down the road”.
You’re reminded that Cohen was asked to produce any documents related to a potential pardon on Monday, when Jerry Nadler issued sweeping requests to 81 individuals and entities with ties to the president, his businesses and his campaign.
On Thursday, Lanny Davis acknowledged that Cohen did in fact ask the above-mentioned Stephen Ryan to inquire about the possibility of a pardon following the FBI raid last year. At the time, Cohen was still in the joint defense agreement.
Clearly, all of this is a hot mess and Cohen’s suit against the Trump Organization only adds to the confusion. Thankfully, it also adds a lot of comedic value to an otherwise sordid saga. Here’s the bottom line (from the complaint):
As of January 25, 2019, unreimbursed attorneys’ fees and costs incurred on behalf of Mr. Cohen in connection with the Matters subject to his indemnification agreement with the Trump Organization exceeded $1.9 million. Attorneys’ fees and costs subject to the Trump Organization’s indemnification agreement continue to accrue.
You can read the full complaint from Cohen below.
As Trump would say: “Enjoy!”Michael-D-Cohen-v-Trump-Organization-LLC-SUMMONS