Former President Donald Trump has sued The New York Times and several of its reporters, along with one of its key sources — his niece — for obtaining tens of thousands of pages of his tax documents for an investigation into his finances that won a Pulitzer Prize.
The articles that was published in October of 2018 assumed that the former president took part in questionable tax schemes back in 1990 which included occasions of outright fraud.
In the lawsuit that was filed in a New York state court in Dutchess County, Trump’s attorneys claim that Suzanne Craig, a reporter of the Times, encouraged Mary Trump to break a binding agreement that was legal in order to keep those documents private as part of a bigger settlement of his father’s estate. Other reporters of Times were identified as David Barstow and Russ Buettner. They were sued due to their participation in the project.
The New York Times has hinted that it will not back down. “The Times’s coverage of Donald Trump’s taxes helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest,” spokesperson Danielle Rhoades-Ha said in a statement that was shared with NPR.
“This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it,” the daily said.
Trump has already threatened the paper with lawsuits in the past, but this is the first time he filed a lawsuit under his name. Last year, the Trump campaign already sued The Times but the case was dismissed this year.
According to Mary Trump’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous said the lawsuit is “frivolous” and part of a pattern of targeting “truthful speech and important journalism on issues of public concern.”
“It is doomed to failure like the rest of his baseless efforts to chill freedom of speech and of the press,” Boutrous said.
In response to The Daily Beast who first reported about the lawsuit, Mary Trump called her uncle a “loser.”
“He is going to throw anything against the wall he can,” Mary Trump told The Daily Beast. “It’s desperation.”
Mary Trump has been vocal with her denunciation against his uncle during his presidency. She also confirmed that she was the source of the documents for Craig and her colleagues in a bestselling 2020 book about Trump entitled Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. She also admits that he was a source in a podcast for The Daily Beast back in Feb.
Donald Trump’s attorneys claim that Craig together with her Times colleagues had actively encouraged Mary Trump to look for the former president’s past financial documents allegedly putting the paper on the hook legally for Mary’s purported violation of a legal agreement to keep them restricted.
The agreement came from a settlement earlier of Mary Trump’s challenge of the will of her grandfather Fred, father of Donald Trump.
She went to court last year and sued the former president and two of his siblings stating that the three connived to cheat her of tens of millions of dollars. The suit is still ongoing.
The former president’s lawyers also claim that the reporters were “motivated, at least in part” by actual malice toward Donald Trump.
“Actual malice” is one of the journalist’s standards used to help identify whether they should pay damages over the publication of false and libelous claims about public officials or public figures.
But Trump did not make any claims of libel or defamation against the paper of his niece Mary in the suit.
The case also contains a breach of contract allegation against Mary Trump and alleged tortious interference against The Time and its reporters meaning the paper knew it was clearly seeking Trump’s niece to break her confidentiality agreement.
Trump did not indicate how the article damaged his riches.
Previously, a judge ruled that the confidentiality pact was vaguely worded to avoid Mary from publishing her book and that Simon and Schuster, her publisher, was not tied by it in any kind.