A judge in New York has thrown out Donald Trump’s 2021 lawsuit accusing New York Times reporters of an “insidious plot” to obtain his tax records.
The former president has also been ordered to pay all attorneys’ fees and legal expenses the Times and its reporters had incurred.
The legal action alleged that the newspaper sought out Mr Trump’s niece Mary Trump and persuaded her “to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office”.
The Daily Beast first reported the news. Donald Trump had also made claims against his niece, which have yet to be ruled on.
The Times’s 2018 Pulitzer-winning stories relied on information from Mary Trump to cast doubt on the ex-president’s claims that he was a self-made millionaire, showing that he inherited hundreds of millions through “dubious tax schemes”. The series also revealed a history of tax avoidance.
Robert Reed, a New York supreme court justice, said Mr Trump’s claims “fail as a matter of constitutional law”, which allows for reporters to engage in legal, ordinary newsgathering. “These actions are at the very core of protected first amendment activity,” Mr Reed wrote.
Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesperson for the Times, told the Guardian: “The New York Times is pleased with the judge’s decision today. It is an important precedent reaffirming that the press is protected when it engages in routine newsgathering to obtain information of vital importance to the public.”
“We will weigh our client’s options and continue to vigorously fight on his behalf,” Mr Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said in a statement.
Last year, the former president also sued CNN, claiming defamation and seeking $475 million (€428 million) in damages. In 2020, his re-election campaign also sued the New York Times and the Washington Post over opinion pieces linking him to Russian interference in the election. The cases against each newspaper were dismissed. – Guardian