Judge Dismisses Trump's Lawsuit Against NYT's 'Insidious Plot,' Orders Trump to Pay Paper's Legal Expenses

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Former President Donald Trump sued The New York Times, three of its reporters, and his own niece in 2021 over an investigation into his tax returns. On Wednesday, a New York trial judge dismissed the suit, saying the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into his finances was clearly protected by the First Amendment.


As The Times eagerly reported, Trump accused the paper and three of its reporters of conspiring in an “insidious plot” with his estranged niece, Mary Trump, to improperly obtain his confidential tax records and federal tax returns for a series of stories published in 2018.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Reed wrote that Trump’s claims against The Times and its reporters “fail as a matter of constitutional law.”

Courts have long recognized that reporters are entitled to engage in legal and ordinary news-gathering activities without fear of tort liability — as these actions are at the very core of protected first amendment activity.

Needless to say, NYT spokesman Charlie Stadtlander was elated with Judge Reed’s decision:

The New York Times is pleased with the judge’s decision today. It is an important precedent reaffirming that the press is protected when it engages in routine news gathering to obtain information of vital importance to the public.

And even more needless to say, Trump lawyer Alina Habba was not:

We will weigh our client’s options and continue to vigorously fight on his behalf.

It should be noted that Trump’s lawyers didn’t say if the ruling would be appealed (New York’s “Supreme Court” is their trial court level), but here’s a “duh” prediction: Of course, they won’t repeal the ruling, given that Trump’s tax records have been released to the public since the lawsuit was filed. Moreover, Trump’s continuing legal battles have since dwarfed his years-long herculean attempt to stop his tax returns from becoming public.


I can already envision the “debate” to come in the comment section: whether or not the release of Trump’s tax returns provided incriminating evidence against the former president or not, which would miss the larger, more salient point: attempting to block a constitutional right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Incidentally, for those in need of a refresher, this whole thing began when Trump refused to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign — particularly given that presidential candidates had released their returns for at least four decades. Trump, instead, repeatedly cited an “ongoing audit” as the reason he wouldn’t release his returns.

Finally, as my colleague Brad Slager reported, even The New York Times blasted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his politically-driven indictment of Trump — but still managed to blame the former president in the process.

Meanwhile, business as usual — “All the News That’s Fit to Skew” — continues at The Old Gray Lady, who ain’t what she used to be. Not even close.


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NYT Claims GOP Lacks ‘Smoking Gun’ to Prove Lab Leak Theory, Tom Cotton Vehemently Begs to Differ

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