The lawsuit comes after Cohen, once Trump’s loyal “fixer”, testified before a Manhattan grand jury that later indicted Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, marking the first time in US history that a former president has been charged with a crime.
Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, pleaded not guilty in that case on April 4. Cohen is poised to be a star witness in any eventual trial in the case, which centres on a hush money payment he made before the 2016 election to a porn star who says she slept with Trump.
The lawsuit accuses Cohen of violating his attorney-client relationship with Trump by revealing his “confidences” and “spreading falsehoods” in books, podcasts and media appearances.
It says Cohen wrongfully called Trump “racist” in his 2020 book, Disloyal, and fabricated conversations with Trump.
“The timing of Disloyal’s release, just prior to the November 3, 2020 Presidential Election, suggests that Defendant intended to improperly disclose Plaintiff’s confidences when it would be most lucrative to do so — and while Disloyal would be sure to have the most damaging reputational effect,” the lawsuit said.
Trump lost the election to Democrat Joe Biden.
Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cohen was a top executive at Trump’s real estate company and then worked as his personal lawyer when Trump assumed office in 2017.
While Cohen said that year that he would “do anything” to protect Trump, his stance had changed dramatically by 2019, when he testified before a US congressional committee.
“I am ashamed because I know what Mr Trump is,” Cohen told the panel. “He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat.”
Cohen in 2018 pleaded guilty to violating federal election law through the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. He was sentenced to three years in prison for that and other crimes, including cheating on his personal taxes and lying under oath to Congress about when the Trump Organization stopped working on a proposed building project in Russia.
Trump denies the affair with Daniels. He is accused by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of falsifying Trump Organization records to conceal that he reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels.
(Reporting by Jasper Ward in Washington and Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Katharine Jackson and Jonathan Oatis.)