Michael Cohen escalated a rift with his former employer on Thursday, filing a civil lawsuit in New York state court against the Trump Organization for legal fees accrued as part of numerous congressional hearings and federal investigations, according to court documents.
Cohen, the former fixer for President Donald Trump and general counsel at the Trump Organization, is seeking nearly $4 million to compensate his attorneys which he says the company owes him as part of a “contractual agreement.”
“Mr. Cohen reasonably relied upon the Trump Organization’s agreement to pay for his attorneys’ fees and costs, and based on this agreement, engaged counsel to represent him in the Investigations and other matters,” according to a complaint filed in New York Superior Court. “In reasonable reliance upon the Trump Organization’s agreement to pay for his attorneys’ fees and costs, Mr. Cohen incurred attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with the Investigations and other matters.”
An attorney for the Trump Organization said there was no agreement written or otherwise with Cohen related to his legal fees.
In the complaint, attorneys for Cohen cited a multitude of investigations in which he incurred legal fees. Those probes include four congressional investigations.
There were also fees related to two lawsuits regarding hush-money payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with then-businessman Donald Trump and which Cohen paid at Trump’s behest. Trump has denied the affairs and denied directing Cohen to do anything illegal.
The suit also cites money allegedly owed as a result of legal fees incurred during a federal investigation in the Southern District of New York and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen pleaded guilty last year to charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York related to campaign finance violations and tax fraud unrelated to his work for the Trump Organization. He later pleaded guilty to additional charges brought by the special counsel of lying to Congress.
A source close to the Trump Organization called the lawsuit “laughable” on Thursday and went on to add “I guess the GoFundMe page didn’t work out so well.”
As part of those guilty pleas, sentencing documents show Cohen was ordered to pay $100,000 in fines and $1.4 million in restitution to the IRS related to the tax fraud charges.
In his complaint on Thursday, Cohen also asks for reimbursement from the Trump Organization for those fines.
“In addition to his prison sentence, Mr. Cohen was ordered to pay fines and other amounts that arose from conduct undertaken by Mr. Cohen in furtherance of and at the behest of the Trump Organization and its principals, directors, and officers and that are also subject to the Trump Organization’s indemnification agreement,” the complaint read.
In December, a federal judge sentenced Cohen to three years in prison for the crimes to which he pleaded guilty. He is scheduled to report to prison on May 6.