Trump must pay the New York Times and its reporters nearly $400,000 in legal fees

(Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

Trump must pay the New York Times and its reporters nearly $400,000 in legal fees


January 12, 2024

Former President Trump was ordered to pay nearly $400,000 in legal fees on Friday


New York Times and three investigative journalists after he unsuccessfully sued them over a 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning story about his family’s wealth and tax practices.

The newspaper and reporters Susanne Craig, David Barstow and Russell Buettner were dismissed from the lawsuit in May. Trump’s claim against his estranged niece, Mary Trump, is still pending. He accuses her of violating a previous settlement agreement by providing tax information to reporters.

Judge Robert Reed of New York said that given the complexity of the issues in the case and other factors, it was reasonable that the former president be forced to pay the Times’ lawyers and reporters a total of $392,638 in legal fees .

Today’s decision shows that the state’s recently amended anti-SLAPP statute can be a powerful force for protecting press freedom, said Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoads Ha, citing a New York law that bans baseless lawsuits that aimed at silencing his critics. Such lawsuits are known as SLAPPs, for strategic lawsuits against public participation.

“The court has sent a message to those who seek to abuse the justice system to silence journalists,” Rhoads Ha said.

In a separate ruling Friday, Reed denied a request by Mary Trump, now the sole defendant in the lawsuit, to delay the case while she appeals his June decision, allowing her uncle’s claim against her to proceed.

Mary Trump’s lawyers declined to comment on Friday’s ruling.

Donald Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said they remain disappointed that the Times and its reporters have been dropped from the case, but are pleased that the court has once again affirmed the strength of our claims against Mary and denies her attempt to avoid liability .

We look forward to moving forward with our claims against her, Habba said.

The former president’s lawsuit, filed in 2021, accused the Times and reporters of ruthlessly seeking out Mary Trump as a source of information and convincing her to turn over confidential tax information. He claimed reporters were aware of a previous settlement agreement that barred her from disclosing the documents she received in a dispute over the estate of family patriarch Fred Trump.

The Times reporting disputed Donald Trump’s claims of self-made wealth by documenting how Fred Trump, his father, had given him at least $413 million over the decades, including through tax evasion. Mary Trump identified herself in a book published in 2020 as the source of the documents used in the Times report.

The Times story stated that Donald Trump and his father avoided gift and estate taxes by, among other things, setting up a sham company and undervaluing assets to tax authorities. The Times said the report was based on more than 100,000 pages of financial documents, including confidential tax returns for the father and his companies.

The former president sought $100 million in damages, claiming that Mary Trump, the Times and reporters were motivated by a personal vendetta against him. He accused them of being involved in a treasonous plot to obtain confidential and highly sensitive data, which they exploited for their own benefit.

In dismissing the Times and its reporters from the lawsuit, Reed wrote that legal newsgathering is at the heart of protected First Amendment activity.

Mary Trump, 58, is the daughter of Donald Trump


brother Fred Trump Jr., who died in 1981 at the age of 42. She is an outspoken critic of her uncle, whom she has called criminal, cruel and treacherous.

In July, she filed a counterclaim against him under New York’s anti-SLAPP law, arguing that his lawsuit was merely retaliatory, had no merit and was intended to deter her and others from using him in the future criticize.


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