Trump also pushed back on the Times‘ defense — that the article in question was opinion, and that the lawsuit was an effort to “punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable. ”
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“If you read it, you will see that it is much more than opinion,” Trump said at a press conference to talk about the administration’s response to the coronavirus. “It is beyond an opinion.”
PREVIOUSLY: The New York Times says that a libel suit filed by the Trump campaign over a 2019 opinion piece is an effort to use the courts “to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable. ”
President Donald Trump’s campaign filed the libel suit Wednesday against the NYT over an opinion piece that claimed that it had an “overarching deal” with Vladimir Putin: help in defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016 in exchange for a pro-Russia foreign policy.
The article, headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” was written by Max Frankel, the former executive editor of the Times, ran on March 27, 2019.
“There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo,” Frankel wrote.
The lawsuit (read it here) claims the article “selectively refers to previously-reported contacts between a Russian lawyer and persons connected with the campaign.”
The Trump campaign claims that the article “insinuates that these contacts must have resulted in a quid pro quo or a deal, and the defamatory article does not acknowledge that, in fact, there had been extensive reporting, including in The Times, that the meetings and contacts that the defamatory article refers to did not result in any quid pro quo or deal between the Campaign and Russia, or anyone connected with either of them.”
A spokesperson for the Times said, “The Trump Campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable. Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, currently the Democratic front-runner to take on Trump in the 2020 presidential election, also responded to the lawsuit today.
“Let’s be clear: we have a president who believes he is above the law and can do and say whatever he wants without consequences,” Sanders said. “Donald Trump has ignored the Constitution, disregarded the will of Congress, and attacked the judiciary. Trump has called the press the ‘enemy of the people,’ and now – taking a page from his dictator friends around the world – is trying to dismantle the right to a free press in the First Amendment by suing the New York Times for publishing an opinion column about his dangerous relationship with Russia.”
The Trump campaign is represented by Charles Harder, who has represented Donald and Melania Trump in other legal threats and libel actions.
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