The longtime personal lawyer for President Donald Trump has filed a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed for publishing an unverified dossier of allegations about Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.
The lawyer Michael Cohen, filed the lawsuit in a New York state court Tuesday, nearly a year after BuzzFeed published the dossier commissioned by political opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Cohen, who is named in the dossier, said BuzzFeed and several of its staffers defamed him by publishing the 35-page document, which contained a mix of truths, falsehoods and unverified rumours about interactions between people close to Trump and Russian figures.
The lawsuit says that BuzzFeed published the unverified allegations "without attempting to determine the veracity of these reports with plaintiff himself."
That included a claim that Cohen had travelled to Prague for secret meetings with a Russian official. Cohen said he has never been to Prague and his passport shows no visits to the Czech Republic.
"Enough is enough of the #fake #RussianDossier," Cohen wrote on Twitter. "Just filed a defamation action against BuzzFeedNews for publishing the lie filled document on POTUS realDonaldTrump and me!"
When it published the dossier, Buzzfeed noted it contained allegations that were unverified and had some "clear errors." BuzzFeed said it was nevertheless publishing the document "so that Americans can make up their own minds" about the allegations against Trump.
Cohen also filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday against Fusion GPS, saying the political opposition reports it prepared included "immensely damaging and defamatory statements."
He faulted the company for recklessly distributing the dossier and allowing it to "fall into the hands of media devoted to breaking news on the hottest subject of the day: the Trump candidacy."
Josh Levy, a lawyer for Fusion, declined to comment Wednesday morning.
BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal defended the publication of the dossier and added, "we look forward to defending our First Amendment rights in court."
In an opinion column published in The New York Times, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said he was proud of the decision to publish the dossier, saying Russian attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. election has become the "central challenge to Mr. Trump's presidency."
"The dossier is unquestionably real news," he wrote.