On Wednesday, a New York judge granted the New York Times’ motion to dismiss former President Donald Trump’s 2018 lawsuit against the paper and three of its reporters over their 2018 series on his taxes, NBC News reported.
In his ruling, New York County state Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed said the claims made against the Times “fail as a matter of constitutional law.” He argued that court precedent recognizes that reporters have the right to “engage in legal and ordinary newsgathering” without the fear of legal liability and said such newsgathering activity is “at the very core” of the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press.
Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit in 2021 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 for which the reporters won a Pulitzer prize.
The former president also named his niece Mary Trump in the lawsuit, accusing her of engaging in a plot to provide the three reporters with “confidential and highly-sensitive records.” While attorneys for Mary Trump have also filed a motion to dismiss the claim against her, Judge Reed has not yet ruled on the motion.
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.
However, Judge Reed dismissed their claim, saying that “as a matter of law,” the fact that the New York Times was reporting on a newsworthy story “constitutes justification.” He also argued that the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press also guards against Trump’s claim of tortious interference.
Judge Reed also ordered the former president to pay the New York Times and its three reporters for attorneys’ fees, legal expenses, and other costs incurred.
In a statement on Wednesday, New York Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander 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.