Top Stories
Top Stories
Politics

A sweeping Democratic lawsuit is just the latest in a string of legal battles trailing Trump

Key Points
  • FBI agents raided the office and residence of President Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is now the subject of an investigation involving potential financial crimes.
  • Cohen dropped a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS in order to spend more time preparing his case against the federal investigators.
  • Meanwhile, porn star Stormy Daniels continues her media blitz against Trump and Cohen, as she seeks to void a nondisclosure deal barring her from discussing an alleged affair with the president.
Donald Trump
Carlos Barria | Reuters

The Democratic National Committee's mammoth lawsuit alleging a conspiracy between the Trump campaign, Russia and Wikileaks is the most expansive legal fight of President Donald Trump's political career — but it's far from the only one.

The Democrats' multimillion-dollar legal action, filed Friday in Manhattan federal court, does not directly include allegations against Trump. However, the named defendants include his campaign officials, his confidants and even his family members.

The newest lawsuit joins a whirlwind of other legal challenges swirling around the president. In some cases, such as porn star Stormy Daniels' lawsuit against Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the president himself is a defendant.

But a number of other cases threaten to erode Trump's political capital in Washington, or make him more vulnerable to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Some of the disputes have been abandoned, while others rage on. Here are some of the biggest lawsuits currently swirling in Trump's orbit:

Michael Cohen
President Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen, center, exits a New York court on April 16, 2018 in New York City.
Getty Images

Just last week, FBI agents raided Cohen's office and residence, seizing up to 10 boxes' worth of physical documents and multiple electronic devices.

The seized materials reportedly include information related to women who allege that they had affairs with Trump, as well as the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape — in which Trump is heard on a hot mic making lewd remarks.

The raids were the result of search warrants reportedly based on a referral from Mueller himself.

Cohen is now in the middle of legal proceedings to determine which of the materials seized in the search should be admissible in court. A lawyer for the president intervened in the case last week, arguing that Trump should be the first to review which documents are protected by attorney-client privilege.

According to the prosecuting attorneys in the case, the raids were the result of a monthslong investigation into potential crimes committed by Cohen.

And with someone so deeply embedded in Trump's financial life now in legal jeopardy, many of Trump's allies are starting to think Cohen could pose a serious threat to the president if he cuts a deal to cooperate with federal investigators.

The suit has become enough of a drain on Cohen's time and resources that this week he suddenly dropped another case involving Trump.

Christopher Steele
Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent in London where he has spoken to the media for the first time, March 7, 2017.
Victoria Jones | PA Images | Getty Images

On Jan. 9, Cohen took legal action against intelligence gathering firm Fusion GPS, and online news and entertainment site BuzzFeed, in defamation suits. That case involved a dossier alleging salacious and largely unverified connections between Trump and the Kremlin.

The 35-page document was compiled by British spy Christopher Steele, who was commissioned by Fusion GPS. The document alleged that Cohen had attended a "secret liaison with the Kremlin" in Prague, among other allegations.

Shortly after the election, BuzzFeed became the first news outlet to publish a story about the dossier. Cohen fiercely rejected the dossier's allegations, saying he had "never been to Prague" in his life.

But on Wednesday night, Cohen dropped the libel suit entirely.

In a statement, Cohen's lawyers maintained that the dossier was defamatory, but said they don't have the "time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters" in light of "the events that have unfolded" — likely referring to the ongoing investigation against him.

Karen McDougal
Karen McDougal
Gregg DeGuire | WireImage | Getty Images

Cohen was connected to another case involving Trump, which also concluded on Wednesday.

On March 20, former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal launched a lawsuit against American Media (AMI), the publishing giant and owner of the National Enquirer tabloid.

McDougal had signed an agreement with AMI in August 2016, handing over the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump in exchange for $150,000, and a slew of fitness articles in AMI's publications.

Her lawyers argued in a court filing that McDougal had been misled about the provisions of the contract, and that she was unaware that her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson, was in close contact with Cohen.

On Wednesday, McDougal and AMI reached a settlement releasing her from the contract, allowing her to freely discuss the alleged tryst with Trump from years earlier.

The White House has said that Trump denies the affair.

Stormy Daniels
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, poses for pictures at the end of her striptease show in Gossip Gentleman club in Long Island, New York, February 23, 2018.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

While the McDougal case appears to have drawn to a close, another case involving an alleged affair with Trump is only expanding.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed suit against Trump on March 6 to void a nondisclosure pact negotiated by Cohen that she signed just weeks before the 2016 election. The deal, for which she was paid $130,000, kept Daniels from discussing her own alleged affair with Trump from 2006. She says the hush deal was never enforceable, because Trump himself never signed it.

Trump has denied the affair ever occurred, and has also denied knowledge of the payment made to Daniels.

After filing suit against Trump and Cohen, Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, embarked on a media blitz. Both Daniels and Avenatti showed up at the Manhattan federal courthouse on Monday to attend Cohen's investigation hearing, and both tore into Cohen's character in remarks to reporters after the proceeding.

Trump made his first Twitter reference to the Daniels case, in which he is a defendant, on Wednesday.

Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort (R), former campaign manager for Donald Trump, arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, February 28, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images

A number of lawsuits involving Trump are a direct outgrowth of the special counsel's inquiry.

Before the Democratic National Committee sued a grab bag of stakeholders in the Russia probe, former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sued special counsel Mueller himself.

Mueller has slapped Manafort with multiple indictments consisting of dozens of criminal counts, including lying to federal investigators and bank fraud.

On Jan. 3, Manafort sued Mueller, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the entire Justice Department, alleging that the Russia probe had expanded beyond its authorized limits.

Mueller, who was appointed by Rosenstein, was given the authority to pursue "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation" into links or coordination between Trump's campaign and the Kremlin.

Manafort's close associate, Rick Gates, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and lying to investigators, after being charged with a number of the same crimes as Manafort.

Andrew McCabe
Andrew McCabe
Getty Images

Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is arguing that his firing, which came just hours before he was eligible to retire with full benefits, was politicized.

Trump has railed against McCabe in public and private for months. In a tweet last week, Trump said McCabe "lied," following the release of an inspector general's report that said McCabe misled investigators after he authorized an information leak to Wall Street Journal reporters in 2016.

Michael Bromwich, a lawyer for McCabe, responded with a tweet of his own, hinting that he and McCabe are considering a defamation suit against Trump.