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Michael Cohen faces setback in fight with President Trump over legal bills

2019-08-29

Michael Cohen exits the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse in 2018. (Alec Tabak/New York Daily News)

Michael Cohen suffered a setback Thursday in his effort to force President Trump to pay over $1 million in legal bills.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen ruled that the supposed agreement to cover the legal fees of Trump’s former personal lawyer, if it existed at all, only covered investigations underway in July 2017.

“Assuming Cohen’s factual allegations are true ... the oral agreement is enforceable to the extent it covers legal proceedings and investigations that were pending in July 2017 when the agreement allegedly was made. It is not enforceable, however, with respect to legal proceedings and investigations that began after the agreement was reached,” the judge wrote in a 28-page decision.

Cohen says he faces a $1.9 million bill for over a dozen Trump-world probes, including an ongoing investigation by State Attorney Letitia James into the Trump Organization’s shady charity.

Prior to their falling out, the Trump Organization paid $1.7 million in Cohen’s legal fees associated with probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Cohen says. He claims he received assurances as late as June 2018 from executives at the company that the arrangement would continue.

But that month, Cohen revealed he was willing to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump called his former right-hand man “a rat” and the Trump Organization stopped paying his legal bills, according to the lawsuit.

Cohen noted in his decision that state law does not allow for an oral agreement to extend in perpetuity.

Michael Cohen is serving three years in federal lockup for campaign finance violations, fraud and lying to Congress.

Trump Organization attorney Marc Mukasey has said the company believes the supposed deal was “made up out of thin air.”

A next step in the case will be for both sides to argue which investigations were underway when the agreement was in effect, the judge wrote.