A New York judge dismissed a 2021 lawsuit that former President Donald Trump brought against the New York Times and its journalists over the disclosure of his tax information in a 2018 Times article.
With the order granting the Times’ motion to dismiss the Trump case against it and its journalists, Judge Robert Teed, of New York County Supreme Court, ordered Trump to pay their attorneys’ fees, legal expenses and costs.
Reed concluded the journalists’ conduct was protected by the New York Constitution, leading him to dismiss the claims Trump brought against the Times defendants.
Among the claims that Trump brought against the Times was the accusation that the journalists were liable for “tortious interference” in how they allegedly sought out his niece and caused her to allegedly breach a 2001 settlement contract with the Trump family.
The judge said he was dismissing the claim against the Times “because The Times’ purpose in reporting on a story of a high public interest constitutes justification as a matter of law.”
The judge also pointed to recent amendments made to New York’s so-called anti-SLAPP law — which provides a mechanism for defendants to seek quick dismissal of lawsuits that target conduct protected by the First Amendment — in explaining why he was ordering the dismissal of the defendants and the payment of their attorneys’ fees.
“The revised anti-SLAPP law was specifically designed to apply to lawsuits like this one,” Judge Reed wrote. “In fact, among other reasons, plaintiffs’ history of litigation – that some observers have described as abusive and frivolous – inspired the expansion of the law.”
In a statement, New York Times spokesperson Charlie Stadtlander said the Times was “pleased with the judge’s decision today.”
“It is an important precedent reaffirming that the press is protected when it engages in routine newsgathering to obtain information of vital importance to the public.”
Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said in an email to CNN that in “light of the Court’s decision, we will weigh our client’s options and continue to vigorously fight on his behalf.”
“All journalists must be held accountable when they commit civil wrongs,” she said. “The New York Times is no different and its reporters went well beyond the conventional news gathering techniques permitted by the First Amendment.”
The lawsuit also names Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, as a defendant. She has not been dismissed as a party in the case.