Trump Must Pay Nearly $400K in Legal Fees to NYT and Reporters

Legal Tides Shift in High-Profile Trump Family Lawsuit.

by Nouman Rasool
Trump Must Pay Nearly $400K in Legal Fees to NYT and Reporters
© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a landmark decision on Friday, former President Donald Trump has been mandated to reimburse nearly $400,000 in legal fees to the New York Times and three of its investigative journalists - Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russell Buettner.

This ruling follows their successful defense against Trump's lawsuit concerning a 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning article about his family’s financial history and tax strategies. The lawsuit, which was dismissed in May, initially included Trump's niece, Mary Trump, whom he accuses of violating a prior settlement agreement by providing confidential tax documents to the journalists.

While the case against Mary Trump is still active, New York Judge Robert Reed emphasized the complexity of the issues in justifying the substantial legal fees awarded to the Times and its reporters. Danielle Rhoads Ha, a spokesperson for the Times, hailed the decision as a testament to the power of New York's recently updated anti-SLAPP statute, designed to prevent meritless lawsuits that threaten free speech.

"This ruling sends a clear message against those attempting to use the legal system to silence journalists," Rhoads Ha stated.

Mary Trump's Appeal Denied

Separately, Judge Reed rejected Mary Trump’s request to pause the lawsuit during her appeal against his earlier decision to let her uncle's claim proceed.

Representatives for Mary Trump declined to comment on the latest development. Alina Habba, representing Donald Trump, expressed disappointment over the exclusion of the Times and its reporters from the lawsuit. However, she welcomed the court's recognition of the ongoing case against Mary Trump.

"We are eager to continue pursuing our claims against her," Habba remarked. Filed in 2021, Trump's lawsuit accused the Times and its reporters of aggressively soliciting information from Mary Trump and persuading her to disclose confidential tax records, allegedly in violation of a previous family settlement.

The Times' investigation, drawing from these documents, challenged Donald Trump's narrative of self-made wealth, revealing substantial financial support from his father, Fred Trump, through various tax-avoidance schemes. The report, based on extensive financial records, suggested that Trump and his father engaged in dubious tax practices, including setting up a sham corporation and undervaluing assets.

The former president sought $100 million in damages, alleging a personal vendetta behind the publication of these documents. In dismissing the claims against the Times and its reporters, Judge Reed underscored the importance of legal news gathering as a fundamental aspect of First Amendment rights.