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Michael Cohen says Trump has two goals in $500M suit: ‘Intimidating’ him and ‘distracting’ from ‘mounting and serious criminal exposure’

Donald Trump and Michael Cohen

Former President Trump (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) and Michael Cohen (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In his latest salvo to dismiss the half-billion dollar lawsuit filed against him, Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen argues that the former president’s “sprawling and baseless” litigation has “two aims.”

Those are “retaliating against and intimidating Mr. Cohen, and distracting from Mr. Trump’s mounting and serious criminal exposure,” Cohen’s attorneys E. Danya Perry and Benjamin H. Brodsky wrote in a 21-page legal brief.

“Asserting cognizable legal claims was apparently not a goal, and indeed Mr. Trump fails to plead essential elements of each of his purported claims,” they added.

Cohen’s attorneys have previously described Trump’s lawsuit as “frivolous,” “scattershot,” and “ham-fisted,” in a way that they say exposes his “tattered old playbook.”

Earlier this month, Trump’s attorney Alejandro Brito bristled at what he described as his adversaries’ “caustic” language. Trump claimed that Cohen caused him “vast reputational harm” by breaching his employment and confidentiality agreements by revealing the former president’s “confidences” and spreading “falsehoods” about him “with malicious intent and to wholly self-serving ends.”

On Thursday, Cohen’s attorneys filed their final reply to Trump — and they didn’t let up on colorfully arguing that the former president’s $500 million lawsuit is fatally flawed.

“Mr. Trump’s arguments on the merits fare no better,” the brief states. “By and large, rather than identifying specific, factual allegations in the Complaint that would make his claims cognizable, he instead points to the very same conclusory allegations that only underscore the insufficiency of his pleading, the incoherence of his legal theories, and the entirely speculative nature of his damages claims.”

In the past, Cohen’s lawyers questioned whether the confidentiality agreement with Trump existed. They say in the latest brief that Trump acknowledged that it is governed by New York law, but he filed his case in a federal court in Florida.

“In addition, Mr. Trump fails to show any standing to enforce the Confidentiality Agreement, and conspicuously stops short of asserting that he is a party to or even a third-party beneficiary of the agreement,” the brief states.

Trump filed his lawsuit against Cohen a little more than a week after his felony indictment in New York. The “mounting and serious criminal exposure” barb refers to special counsel Jack Smith’s long-awaited case following the FBI’s seizure of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

The 37-count indictment against Trump includes dozens of counts accusing the former president of violating the Espionage Act along with several others of conspiring to obstruct justice and making false statements to authorities. The former president was charged along with military veteran Walt Nauta, his personal assistant.

Both Trump’s civil case against Cohen and the Justice Department’s case against the former president are in the Southern District of Florida.

Trump’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."