Time to reset the clock: After dozens of empty threats, Donald Trump has followed through on his promise to sue a journalist — or, in this case, three: the trio of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporters who exposed decades of tax evasion and even instances of “outright fraud” perpetrated by then-president back in 2018.
At the time, Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder of Gawker-killing fame, stated the “allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” before threatening legal action. (By publishing the 18-month inquiry, Harder said, the Times “will be exposing itself to substantial liability and damages for defamation.”)
That long-promised lawsuit has now arrived, but it isn’t for defamation or libel; in fact, Trump appears to have dropped any pretense that any element of the Times report was incorrect. Instead, lawyers for the former president said in a complaint filed Tuesday in New York’s Dutchess County and first reported by the Daily Beast, that the Times reporters forced his niece into a covert conspiracy to “rewrite the history of the President of the United States.”
As per Trump’s lawyers, the following is how they believe the events transpired:
Times investigative reporter Susan Craig, who had no prior relationship with Mary Trump, appeared at her home and attempted to speak with her about “a very important story about [the Trump] family finances.” Mary Trump initially refused to speak with Craig, even going so far as to tell her “[i]t is so not cool that you’re showing up at my house” and further emphasizing, “I can’t talk to you.”
Despite her refusal, Craig persistently and relentlessly sought out Mary Trump in her pursuit of certain documents which she believed to be in Mary Trump’s possession. In particular, Craig was seeking confidential documents …Craig expressed to Mary Trump that she believed that these documents could help “rewrite the history of the President of the United States.”
According to Trump’s lawyer’s claim, his niece eventually consented to cooperate, and Craig then “directed Mary Trump” to “smuggle” the documents out of her lawyer’s office while using “a ‘burner’ phone in an attempt to conceal their communications.”
Mary Trump would not have turned over tens of thousands of pages of her uncle’s tax papers if it hadn’t been for Craig’s browbeating she received, according to Trump’s lawyers.
The remainder of the narrative is well-known: the Times followed up with an 18-month investigation based on the tax data, which drew “more views than any previous article in The Times’ history,” according to the suit, and coincided with a 7.4% increase in the Times stock price. (The lawsuit makes no mention of the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting the three reporters won for the series.)
When contacted by the Daily Beast for comment, Mary Trump seems unconcerned about her uncle’s lawsuit. “I think he is a fucking loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can,” she said. “It’s desperation. The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”
As per Rollingstone, the former president is seeking damages from both Mary Trump and the Times of “an amount to be determined at trial, but believed to be no less than One Hundred Million Dollars.”