Donald Trump Loses Libel Suit Against N.Y. Times

The New York Times building
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On Tuesday, a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit that Donald Trump's presidential campaign filed against The New York Times. The libel claim targeted an opinion column titled "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo," by Max Frankel, who asserted that far from there being no electoral collusion, there had been an “overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russia foreign policy.” New York Supreme Court Justice James d'Auguste concludes that the commentary is nonactionable opinion, and even if otherwise, Trump has failed to show facts supporting actual malice.

The suit, filed in February 2020, was highly unusual insofar as presidential candidates typically don't go to court in the midst of reelection campaigns. But to the extent that Trump was suing as part of an anti-media message, his attorney Charles Harder has been unsuccessful in carrying this lawsuit past a motion to dismiss. The judge also rejects the complaint on the basis that Frankel's statements are not "of and concerning," the plaintiff — Donald J. Trump for President — but rather about Trump's associates and family members.

The judge has denied an application from The New York Times for sanctions, though thanks to New York's recently passed anti-SLAPP statute (which was recently interpreted to have retroactive effect in the ongoing suit from Sarah Palin against the NYT), there exists a decent possibility that the publication could soon attempt to seek its attorney fees and costs from Trump.

Here's the full opinion: