President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign sued The New York Times over an opinion piece about Russia, CNN reports.
The campaign alleged that the Times "knowingly published false and defamatory statements" in March 2019, arguing that it knew it was not credible because of the Mueller report -- which was not released until the following month.
The lawsuit is over a Max Frankel op-ed titled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.” Frankel argued that the Trump campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin "had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration's burdensome economic sanctions."
The campaign alleged that The Times published the piece "knowing it would misinform and mislead its own readers" because they must have known the Mueller report "was likely to exonerate the Campaign from allegations of collusion."
"Once the Mueller Report was released, The Times knew that any claims of conspiracy would not be credible," the lawsuit said. "Thus, by publishing the Defamatory Article in March 2019, The Times sought to damage the Campaign before the Mueller Report would be released debunking the conspiracy claims."
Times hits back:
"The Trump Campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable,” a spokesperson for The Times told CNN. "Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case."
Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said “opinion is protected.”
“If it is an opinion, the case goes away because your opinion can be anything you want. The doctrine is called a fair comment,” he said. “It was actually, I think, a clever way of expanding libel law but I don’t think it will succeed.”
Trump vows more lawsuits:
Trump defended the lawsuit during a news conference on Wednesday.
“Well, when they get the opinion totally wrong, as The New York Times did, and, frankly, they’ve got a lot wrong over the last number of years,” Trump said. “Let that work its way through the courts.”
Trump vowed that more lawsuits would be coming.
“If you read it, you’ll see. It’s beyond an opinion. That’s not an opinion. That’s much more than an opinion,” the president said. “They did a bad thing, and there will be more coming.”