As the President will likely see in the near future, there’s one thing that is sometimes the most painful for litigation clients: the discovery process.
The Hill is reporting today that the President’s private lawyer, Michael Cohen, has filed a lawsuit against BuzzFeed News and Fusion GPS over the now-infamous dossier that has allegedly linked Trump to Russian connections amid other scandalous details.
Yet the lawsuit’s strategy may be forgetting one important part about litigation (especially with quick-triggered lawsuits): both sides will have the opportunity to seek documents and other evidence from the other side that support either the claims brought in the lawsuit or — key here — the defenses to those claims.
Although litigation is never the ideal course of action for a dispute, we have many years of experience both prosecuting and defending claims brought in court. These cases often take months or years to resolve, and that time is spent poring over boxes and boxes of documents. Lawyers like us revel in reviewing these documents; opposing parties do not.
Trump’s suit alleges that the statements in the dossier were false and defamatory. So what would Buzzfeed’s and Fusion GPS’s argument be? That they are indeed true.
And in support of that defense, BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS will — in theory — be able to seek documents from Trump supporting their claims in their own defense. Visitors logs, emails, travel documents, perhaps even tax returns: these could all be fair game for discovery requests, as could be depositions under oath. This shows a lack of foresight in a President who seems eager to finally follow through on a threat to sue for defamation. Although these documents are often produced under strict non-disclosure agreements or subject to protective orders, I doubt the President would want opposing counsel in possession of sensitive documents.
BuzzFeed or Fusion GPS: if you’re listening, Life Law Partners will happily handle your defense discovery for free.