"Didn't want to answer questions under oath": Trump abruptly drops Cohen lawsuit ahead of deposition

Donald Trump ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
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Former President Donald Trump has voluntarily dismissed the $500 million federal lawsuit he brought against his former attorney Michael Cohen, according to court records.

The notice, filed Thursday, states that the lawsuit will be thrown out "without prejudice," a distinction that provides Trump the option to refile it later.

Days after his first criminal indictment came down in April, Trump sued Cohen — the key witness in his New York hush-money case and ongoing fraud trial — for a half billion dollars in the Southern District of Florida. He had been scheduled for a deposition by Cohen's lawyer, which he had pushed back twice, on Monday.

The deposition was first scheduled for Sept. 6, but Trump postponed it. After a judge rescheduled it for Oct. 3, Trump pushed back the date again on the grounds that he had to attend court for his civil fraud case in New York.

U.S. District Court Judge Edwin Torres then rescheduled the deposition for a second time for Oct. 9, which is now void.

Cohen's attorney E. Danya Perry said in a statement to  The Messenger that Trump dropped the case to avoid facing her questioning.

A spokesperson for Trump referred to the deposition in explaining the former president's decision to "temporarily" dismiss the lawsuit, also noting that the date falls on Columbus Day, a federal holiday on which Trump is scheduled to be in New Hampshire.

"Once President Trump has prevailed in dealing with the witch hunts against him, he will continue to pursue his claims against Michael Cohen, who rightfully deserves to, and will be, held accountable for his unlawful words and actions just as the Southern District of New York held him accountable for numerous non-Trump related acts and crimes, making Cohen a 'proud' felon," the spokesperson said.

Cohen pleaded guilty to a range of crimes, including a campaign finance violation pertaining to hush-money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Federal prosecutors said the former Trump lawyer committed the act with his then-boss' "coordination" and "direction." Cohen, in a guilty plea, also admitted to lying to Congress in testimony about Trump's business interests in Russia.

Cohen told the Messenger that the reversal validates his belief from the start that Trump only filed the case to scare him away from acting as a star witness in his civil and criminal battles.

"As I said from the beginning: this case was nothing more than a retaliatory intimidation tactic, and his attempt to hide from routine discovery procedures confirms as much," Cohen said. "Mr. Trump's cowardly dismissal spells the end of this latest attempt to deter me from providing truthful testimony against him."

He added that his attorneys will look into "holding Mr. Trump accountable for his latest abuse of the legal system."

Trump's lawsuit dismissal notice came just before another for his aggressive lawsuit against the New York judge overseeing his civil bank fraud trial, which Trump dropped late Thursday night and many perceived as a last-ditch effort to avoid the potential downfall of his real estate empire, according to the Daily Beast.

That effort fell flat after Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron last week ordered the dissolution of some of Trump's key businesses in a summary judgment that found the former president had defrauded banks and insurers for years by inflating and deflating his assets.

Defense lawyers indicated that the lawsuit was also dismissed "with prejudice" in the filing, which comes near the end of the case's first week of trial slated for three months where Engoron will decide whether the Trump family should fork over the $250 million requested in the suit.

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Legal experts speculated online that Trump axed his lawsuit against Cohen to avoid speaking under oath during the deposition.

"Of course right before his deposition on Monday, no less. I guess Trump didn’t want to answer questions under oath…" MSNBC host and legal analyst Katie Phang wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"This is so Trump didn’t have to sit for a deposition, which he kept putting off," added Andrew Weissmann, a former assistant U.S. attorney who served on special counsel Bob Mueller's team.

"With 4 pending indictments and an ongoing trial that could cost him hundreds of millions & control of his real estate portfolio, he can’t afford another video deposition," MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin said on X.

"Trump filed this lawsuit to generate press attention, not to pursue a legitimate claim," added former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. "It’s no surprise that he dismissed it once he got the attention he wanted."