Former President Donald Trump is suing The New York Times, three of its journalists and his niece, Mary Trump — alleging she violated the terms of a 2001 family settlement agreement by turning over some of his tax records to the newspaper for a 2018 article and by publishing a 2020 tell-all book that contained other confidential information.
According to a complaint filed Tuesday with New York’s Dutchess County Supreme Court, Alina Habba — the former president’s attorney — argued the defendants “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records which they exploited for their own benefit and utilized as a means of falsely legitimizing their publicized works.”
The actions of Mary Trump and the Times reporters — Susanne Craig, David Barstow and Russell Buettner — “were motivated by a personal vendetta and their desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall and were further intended to advance their political agenda,” the lawsuit states.
Mary Trump has previously acknowledged in her 2020 book and media interviews that she was a source for the 18-month Times investigation that resulted in the 2018 article — a more than 13,000-word story titled “Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father.”
The 2018 article, widely regarded one of the most comprehensive pieces of reporting on the former president’s finances ever published, went on to win the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting.
The 2018 article came after the same Times reporters, along with their colleague Megan Twohey, reported in 2016 that a $916 million declared loss on Donald Trump’s 1995 income tax returns could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
The former president’s lawsuit includes seven causes of action: “Breach of Contract” against Mary Trump; “Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing” against Mary Trump; “Unjust Enrichment” against Mary Trump; “Tortious Interference with Contract” against the Times defendants; “Aiding and Abetting Tortious Interference with Contract” against the Times defendants; “Unjust Enrichment” against the Times defendants; and “Negligent Supervision and/or Retention” against the Times.
Donald Trump is seeking “an award of actual, compensatory, and incidental damages … believed to be no less than” $100 million, according to the lawsuit.
Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Mary Trump’s attorney, said in a statement Wednesday that the former president’s legal action “is the latest in a long line of frivolous lawsuits by Donald Trump that target truthful speech and important journalism on issues of public concern. It is doomed to failure like the rest of his baseless efforts to chill freedom of speech and of the press.”
The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.