New York Court Dismisses Trump Defamation Suit Against NYT

A New York Supreme Court justice dismissed the Trump re-election campaign’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times (NYT) on Tuesday, citing the campaign’s failure to prove the NYT acted with “actual malice” against Trump.

In 2019, the New York Times published an opinion essay written by Max Frankel titled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.” In the piece, Frankel suggests Trump and Russian officials made “an overarching deal” before the 2016 election that stated the Russian officials would help Trump defeat his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in exchange for a more pro-Russian foreign policy agreement once Trump took office. 

Trump’s re-election campaign, Donald J. Trump for President Inc., filed for defamation against the New York Times in February 2020. Additionally, the re-election campaign also accused the Times of “extreme bias against and animosity toward” their campaign. 

However, Judge James E. d’Auguste decided Tuesday to dismiss the case. In a written explanation of his ruling, he called Frankel’s writing “nonactionable opinion,” and therefore constitutionally protected speech. Judge d’Auguste also explained that the re-election campaign had not shown enough evidence to sue for defamation, nor could they prove the Times published the piece with “actual malice.”

The New York Times filed for a dismissal of the lawsuit and for financial penalties to be imposed upon the campaign. However, while the judge granted the dismissal, he did not impose the financial penalties against the campaign that the Times had asked for.

Last year, Trump’s re-election campaign filed lawsuits against The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN over their coverage on Russia’s interference with the 2016 election. Last November, the CNN suit was dismissed, and the Washington Post’s case is still pending. 

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