On Wednesday, a judge slapped down former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against the New York Times and ordered him to cough up the attorneys’ fees for the paper and the three reporters named in the lawsuit, NBC News reported.
In his decision, New York County state Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed said the claims in the former president’s lawsuit “fail as a matter of constitutional law.” Reed noted that the Courts long recognize that reporters have the right to “engage in legal and ordinary newsgathering” without the fear of legal liability. He said this activity is “at the very core” of the Free Press protections in the First Amendment.
In 2021, Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and three of its reporters, David Barstow, Russell Buettner, and Susan Craig, over their 2018 series on his undisclosed finances. The reporters later won a Pulitzer prize for the series.
The lawsuit also named Trump’s niece Mary whom he accused of plotting with the three reporters to provide “confidential and highly-sensitive records.”
In the complaint, Trump’s lawyers argued that the New York Times played a part in “tortious interference” when Mary Trump breached the nondisclosure agreement she signed after a 2001 settlement with Trump.
But Judge Reed dismissed the claim, saying that “as a matter of law,” the New York Times reporting on a newsworthy story “constitutes justification.” He also argued that the guarantee of a free press found in the First Amendment also guards against the claim.
Judge Reed also ordered Trump to pay the attorneys’ fees, legal expenses, and other costs incurred by the New York Times and its three reporters.
In a statement on Wednesday, Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesman for the New York Times said Judge Reed’s decision reaffirms the precedent “that the press is protected” when engaging in “routine newsgathering to obtain information” vital to the public.
Attorneys for Mary Trump have also filed a motion to dismiss the complaint against her, however, Judge Reed has not yet decided on the motion.