Trump Campaign Sues NY Times For Defamation Over Putin

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    NEW YORK (AP) — The campaign to reelect President Donald Trump sued The New York Times for defamation Wednesday, saying it was responsible for an essay by a former executive editor for the newspaper that claimed the campaign made a deal with Russian officials to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    In the lawsuit in state court in New York, Donald J. Trump for President Inc. said the newspaper knowingly published false and defamatory statements when the Op-Ed piece claimed the campaign had an “overarching deal” with “Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy” to defeat the Democratic candidate.

    The lawsuit blamed the newspaper for the essay, saying the March 2019 article headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” by Max Frankel, said the deal called for “the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy.”

    Frankel was executive editor of the Times from 1986 to 1994.

    The lawsuit said Times reporters had confirmed the falsity of the statements, but the newspaper published them anyway because of its “extreme bias against and animosity toward the Campaign, and The Times’ exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020.”

    According to the lawsuit, the campaign sued to recover unspecified damages, publicly establish the truth, properly inform the newspaper’s readers and the rest of the world and to seek appropriate remedies for the harm.

    While briefing the media on the COVID-19 virus Wednesday evening, Trump fielded a question about the lawsuit and said the Times piece was beyond an opinion.

    Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times, said in a statement that 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.”

    Brian Hauss, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who specializes in free speech, privacy and technology, said the lawsuit was “completely meritless.”

    “A publisher cannot be held liable for commentary based on public facts. If the law were any different, President Trump himself could be held liable for asserting that the Democrats colluded with Russia,” he said in a statement.

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    4 COMMENTS

      • Not gonna be any fun for you. No one sues for defamation unless they know in their heart that the article was false. Obviously in this case trump knows he didn’t do anything with the Russians. Hence N.Y. times is in deep trouble here. They’re being sued by the president of the United States and they have no shot. FAKE NEWS!!

        • Hey, I’m not saying anything about this particular case, but your statement “…No one sues for defamation unless they know in their heart that the article was false…” is absurdly ill informed. There are many motivations for filing such an action, honorable and otherwise.

          In view of the “qualified privilege” that applies to alleged defamation of public figures, the President will need to prove deliberate or reckless bad faith…which explains his claim that the Times ” knowingly published false and defamatory statements” – it’s a uphill fight.

          Also, in the context of defamation cases brought against him, by some of his alleged “hookups,” the President has argued for legislation making it harder to prevail in defamation cases. I guess his differing opinions simply reflect on what would best help him at any particular moment.

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