NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against The New York Times over a 2018 investigative series into his family’s wealth and tax practices was dismissed by a state judge Wednesday.
The lawsuit accused the Times and three of its investigative reporters of relentlessly seeking out his estranged niece, Mary Trump, as a source of information and convincing her to turn over confidential documents. The $100 million suit claims the reporters were aware of a settlement agreement barring her from disclosing the documents.
Trump sued Mary Trump, the Times and the three reporters in 2021, claiming they were “motivated by a personal vendetta” against him. The Times and its reporters on Wednesday succeeded in getting a judge to dismiss the claims against them.
“Plaintiff’s claims against The Times defendants, as an initial matter, fail as a matter of constitutional law,” Robert Reed of the New York State Supreme Court wrote. He said that legal news gathering is “at the very core of protected First Amendment activity.”
Reed also ordered Trump to pay legal expenses for the newspaper and its reporters, Susanne Craig, David Barstow and Russ Buettner.
Trump attorney Alina Habba said “we will weigh our client’s options.”
“All journalists must be held accountable when they commit civil wrongs. The New York Times is no different and its reporters went well beyond the conventional news gathering techniques permitted by the First Amendment,” she said in an email.
The Times’ reporting challenged Trump’s claims of self-made wealth by documenting how his father, Fred, had given him at least $413 million over the decades, including through tax avoidance schemes.
The series was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting.