Michael Cohen has had about enough of former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. He is now seeking legal advice regarding a possible defamation lawsuit over recent comments the ex-spy made about Donald Trump‘s erstwhile friend and fixer.
Steele is the author of a largely discredited opposition research dossier–the preparation of which was originally funded by conservative advocacy journalists before being funded by the Democratic National Committee–containing unverified and salacious information about the 46th president, including the so-called “pee tape.” He recently spoke to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and was asked directly about Cohen.
“One big claim the dossier, the FBI, according to the Inspector General’s report–and Mueller reinforces it–is not true, is the claim that Michael Cohen had a meeting with Russians in Prague,” the host noted. “Do you accept that finding that it didn’t happen?”
To which Steele replied: “No, I don’t.”
Stephanopoulos then explained that “Cohen has completely turned on Donald Trump,” listed some examples, and said that “it defies logic that if he did this, he wouldn’t say so now.”
Steele had a legal theory for that bit of speculation.
“It’s self-incriminating to a very great degree,” the former MI6 agent said, prompting the host to ask how Cohen might incriminate himself.
“Treason, presumably,” Steele said.
Cohen responded to Steele’s latest attacks with a verbal barrage of his own during an episode of The Dan Abrams Show, the eponymous SiriusXM radio show hosted by Law&Crime founder Dan Abrams.
“What else can I say?” Cohen said, in sarcastic umbrage to guest host Jesse Weber. “I was pleased to see that my old friend Christopher Steele, and you’re right that I call him ‘AKA Austin Powers,’ has crawled out of the pub long enough to make up a few more stories. And I eagerly await his next secret dossier which proves the existence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and that Elvis is still alive. In fact, I hear David Pecker needs a new dirt-digger at The National Enquirer–because that’s really what the guy is. He’s a dirt-digger.”
The rest of the interview went on as follows:
Weber: So, when he gets interviewed and you see him getting interviewed and he goes on TV and says, “Look, the reason Cohen denies this is because he’s afraid of incriminating himself in treason.” He makes this on national television–makes this statement–what do you think about that?
Cohen: Again, it just proves to me that he’s mentally unstable; that he’s probably an idiot; you know, and I feel sorry for all the MI6 qualified agents who have to put up with the ribbing around the world that they have this MI6 agent that is, I don’t know, batshit crazy?
Weber: Well, here’s a question: if this is in fact defamatory statements, you don’t have to tell me, but, are you considering–are you planning on taking any kind of action?
Cohen: I’m already speaking to a lawyer.
Weber: After the interview?
Cohen: After the interview, yeah, I’m already speaking to a lawyer. I can’t tell you the number of lawyers that reached out to me on that. I happen to have one in particular who I happen to know on a personal basis, but the number of attorneys that reached out and said “I mean this is slander; this is defamation to the nth degree.” Why? Because it goes to the whole case of malice–which of course is Sullivan v. New York Times and Gertz v. Welch.
I mean, these are perfect examples of exactly the kind of things that you don’t do–especially when you know that what you’re saying is false–it’s unverified, it’s undocumented, it’s uncorroborated.
Our amazing, amazing law enforcement agencies–and we have the best in the world, right?–have turned around and they have gone through this with the finest, finest of agents and what have they determined? I have never been there. I was in Los Angeles where I said I was. That I have shown that I was in–whether it was at USC or with Harvey Levin–They did all the research. They corroborated everything that I said. And the facts are the facts.
In a message after his Wednesday comments, Cohen emphasized to Law&Crime that he is only exploring filing a defamation lawsuit and will comment if it advances. Such a lawsuit has not been filed.
[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]
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