Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, has withdrawn lawsuits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS over the publishing of a controversial dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.
Cohen filed the lawsuits earlier this year — one in federal court against the private investigative firm and the other in state court against the popular media website.
Cohen’s attorney filed to withdraw both late Wednesday night.
“The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one,” Cohen’s attorney, David Schwartz, said in a statement to ABC News on Thursday.
Schwartz said Cohen still believes BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS defamed him “but given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits.”
BuzzFeed said the lawsuit had never been about the “merits” of publishing the dossier.
“The lawsuits against BuzzFeed over the Steele dossier have never been about the merits of our decision to publish it,” a BuzzFeed’s spokesperson wrote in a statement this morning on Twitter. “Today’s news suggests that
ABC News has reached out to Fusion GPS for comment.
Cohen claimed in both lawsuits that the so-called Steele dossier’s unconfirmed allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents contained “false and defamatory” assertions that resulted in “harm to his personal and professional reputation, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities.”
Steele gave his dossier to Fusion GPS and it was later published in its entirety by BuzzFeed.
In his statement Thursday morning, the Buzzfeed spokesperson repeated the company’s claim that the dossier’s “interest to the public is, and always has been, obvious.”
According to Cohen’s initial complaint, Fusion GPS, co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, “recklessly placed [the dossier] beyond their control and allowed it to fall into the hands of media devoted to breaking news on the hottest subject of the day: the Trump candidacy.”
ABC News’ Pete Madden contributed reporting.