Donald Trump – Credit: AP
Time to reset the clock: after dozens of empty threats, Donald Trump has kept his promise to sue one journalist or, in this case, three: the trio of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalists which in 2018 revealed decades of tax evasion and even outright fraud cases perpetrated by the then president.
Trump’s lawyer at the time, Charles Harder of Gawker-killing fame, said the fraud and tax evasion allegations were 100 percent false and highly defamatory, before threatening legal action. (By publishing the 18-month investigation, Harder said, the Times would expose itself to substantial liability and libel damages.)
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This long-promised litigation has finally come to fruition, but it is not for libel or libel, it seems, in fact, that Trump has totally abandoned the claim that part of the Times investigation was false. Instead, in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dutchess County, New York and first reported by the Daily Beast, lawyers for the former president say Times reporters forced his niece to participate in a underground plot to rewrite the history of the President of the United States.
Here’s how Trumps’ attorneys describe how they believe the events unfolded:
[Times investigative reporter Susan] Craig, who had no previous relationship with Mary Trump, appeared at her house and attempted to tell her about a very important story regarding [the Trump] family finances. Mary Trump initially refused to speak to Craig, even going so far as to tell him [i]It’s not cool that you show up at my house and I emphasize even more, I can’t talk to you.
Despite her refusal, Craig persistently and relentlessly searched for Mary Trump in her quest for certain documents she believed to be in Mary Trump’s possession. In particular, Craig was looking for confidential documents Craig expressed to Mary Trump that she believed these documents could help rewrite the history of the President of the United States.
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Eventually, Trump’s lawyers claim, his niece agreed to help, at which point Craig ordered Mary Trump to get the documents out of his law office, while using a burner phone in an attempt to conceal their communications . Without the name-calling she received from Craig, Trump lawyers say, Mary Trump would never have turned over tens of thousands of pages of her uncles’ tax records.
The rest of the story is well known: The Times went on to publish a comprehensive 18-month investigation based on the tax records which, the lawsuit notes with apparent pride, garnered more views than any previous article in the l Times story, and coincided with a 7.4% rise in the Times share price. (The lawsuit makes no mention of the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting the three journalists won for the series.)
Reached for comment by the Daily Beast, Mary Trump seemed neither phased nor amused by her uncle’s costume. I think he’s a fucking loser, and he’s going to throw everything against the wall he can, she said. His despair. The walls close and he throws anything that might stick against the wall. As is always the case with Donald, try changing the subject.
The former president is seeking damages from both Mary Trump and The Times in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than a hundred million dollars.
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