- The Trump campaign is suing the New York Times over an opinion piece about Russia, Russia, Russia
- Trump opponents call the lawsuit a "joke"
- The New York Times appears poised to fight the case
President Trump's campaign has filed a libel lawsuit against The New York Times.
A search of records did not immediately turn up any other lawsuits by a sitting president against national news media. That means it could be the first case of its kind.
The lawsuit claims The Times falsely reported, as if a fact, that Donald Trump had conspired with Russia.
“Today the President’s re-election campaign filed suit against the New York Times for falsely stating the campaign had an ‘overarching deal’ with ‘Vladimir Putin's oligarchy’ to ‘help the campaign against Hillary Clinton’ in exchange for ‘a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from ... economic sanctions.’ The statements were and are 100 percent false and defamatory. The complaint alleges The Times was aware of the falsity at the time it published them, but did so for the intentional purpose of hurting the campaign, while misleading its own readers in the process.”Jenna Ellis, Senior Legal Adviser to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
The opinion piece claimed that the Trump campaign had an “overarching deal” with “Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy” to “help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton” in exchange for “a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions.”
According to the lawsuit, "The Times was well aware when it published these statements that they were not true. The Times’ own previous reporting had confirmed the falsity of these statements. But The Times published these statements anyway, knowing them to be false, and knowing it would misinform and mislead its own readers, because of The Times’ extreme bias against and animosity toward the Campaign, and The Times’ exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020."
The New York Times issued a statement to The Hill indicating it intends to fight the case and expects to be cleared.
The Trump Campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable. Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case.The New York Times (to The Hill)
Meantime, the online investigative news group ProPublica calls the lawsuit "a joke," and says it should be dismissed.
This new lawsuit is a joke under our current constitutional law of libel. It complains of an opinion piece written by a former executive editor of the Times, Max Frankel. Frankel, 89, a great journalist (and, admittedly, a friend of mine for more than 40 years), won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and ran the Times opinion pages from 1977-86 and its news pages from 1986-94. His op-ed last March reflected his belief that Trump and Vladimir Putin of Russia were engaged in a symbiotic relationship, with Putin helping Trump gain power in this country while Trump sought to soften U.S. policy toward Russia.Richard Tofel, ProPublica
Read more on ProPublica's objections to the lawsuit here: https://www.propublica.org/article/president-donald-trump-libel-suit-new-york-times-press-freedom