A New York Supreme Court judge on Wednesday dismissed a 2021 lawsuit filed by former Republican President Donald Trump against The New York Times, its reporters, and his estranged niece, Mary Trump.
The $100 million lawsuit alleged that Mary Trump, the New York Times, and its three reporters of having conspired “an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records.”
The case was filed over the left-wing outlet’s reporting in 2018 about the former president’s tax records.
Trump sued, alleging that journalists with the New York Times “relentlessly sought out” Trump’s niece and “convinced her” to smuggle Trump’s records out of her attorney’s office and “turn them over” to the newspaper.
“All the while, the parties knew full well that their actions were wrongful, as evidenced by their insistence on communicating through ‘burner’ phones and The Times initial claims that the records were obtained from an ‘anonymous’ source,” the lawsuit alleged.
These records were part of the discovery in an estates dispute between Trump, his estranged niece, and several other members of the Trump family following the death of Frederick C. Trump, who is Trump’s father and Mary Trump’s grandfather.
New York Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed, in his decision (pdf) issued Wednesday, said Trump’s allegations “fail as a matter of constitutional law.”
Reed said the New York Times’s reporting was at “the very core of protected First Amendment activity,” and that courts have “long recognized that reporters are entitled to engage in legal and ordinary news gathering activities without fear of tort liability.”
The judge also ordered Trump to pay all legal fees associated with the case.
In a statement to multiple outlets, the New York Times said it was “pleased” with Reed’s decision.
“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,” the outlet added.
Trump’s Lawyer Weighing Up Options
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said in a statement to the New York Times: “we will weigh our client’s options and continue to vigorously fight on his behalf.” She has not said whether they plan to appeal the ruling.
Reed has yet to rule on the case against Mary Trump. However, in his decision, the judge said Mary Trump “owned the files she disclosed to [the New York Times] and thus there was nothing wrongful” for the outlet and its journalists to have requested the documents for journalistic purposes
Reed noted in the background of the case that Mary Trump had not smuggled the documents out of her attorney’s office but had instead “received permission from her attorneys to take an extra copy from them,” after which she shared it with the New York Times.
The former president has alleged that Mary Trump’s actions constitute a blatant breach of a confidentiality provision of the settlement agreement related to the estates of Frederick C. Trump.
From The Epoch Times