Judge requires Trump to pay New York Times $400K in legal fees

 January 13, 2024

Former President Donald Trump has been ordered to pay nearly $400,000 to the New York Times following the dismissal of a lawsuit deemed "frivolous" by a judge.

The lawsuit was in response to the Times' award-winning 2018 report exposing Trump family tax practices.

The ruling

The judge ruled in May that the report, which won a Pulitzer Prize, was protected by the First Amendment. The recent decision reinforces the efficacy of New York's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, designed to prevent baseless lawsuits aimed at silencing critics.

The judge, Robert Reed, justified the order for Trump to cover legal fees by considering the complexity of the case. The total amount, $392,638, includes fees for the New York Times and reporters Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russell Buettner.

This ruling sends a message about the power of anti-SLAPP laws in protecting press freedom, as expressed by Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha.

The lawsuit

Trump initiated the lawsuit in 2021, accusing the New York Times and his niece, Mary Trump, of conspiring to obtain confidential financial documents for their news articles and a book.

The 2018 report contradicted Trump's claims of self-made wealth, revealing that his father, Fred Trump, had contributed at least $413 million through various financial schemes.

The report also exposed Trump's tax avoidance practices and undervaluation of assets. The judge dismissed Trump's claims, viewing them as a personal vendetta against his niece and the Times.

Settlement pending

While the suit against the newspaper was dismissed in May, Trump's claim that Mary Trump breached a settlement agreement by providing tax records to reporters is still pending.

Mary Trump, a vocal critic of her uncle, filed a counterclaim in July under New York's anti-SLAPP law, arguing that Trump's lawsuit was retaliatory and lacked merit.

The recent court decision denied Mary Trump's request to put the case on hold while she appeals, affirming the strength of Trump's claims against her.

Trump's legal team, led by lawyer Alina Habba, expressed disappointment over the dismissal of claims against the Times but welcomed the court's affirmation of their case against Mary Trump.

The ruling highlights the ongoing legal battles over Trump's financial records as he faces challenges on multiple fronts in his efforts to run for president in a potential rematch against President Joe Biden later this year.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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