Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday sued his estranged niece, three reporters, and the New York Times over a hit piece from 2018.
The Times piece questioned Trump’s family history and tax practices. It set out to disprove “the myth of Donald Trump, Self-Made Billionaire” … but Trump himself had already discussed the generous loans given to him by his father.
The Times was arguing against a claim that no one actually seems to believe, and the newspaper sourced its argument from confidential records documents provided by the former president’s niece, Mary Trump.
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Trump’s team is accusing Mary Trump of breaching a legally binding agreement by disclosing the records given to her during a dispute over the estate of Fred Trump, the former president’s father. The nondisclosure agreement was cited last year in a lawsuit by Robert Trump, The Associated Press reported.
Last year, Mary Trump came forward as the source of the documents.
She said so in the book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, her unauthorized biography of former President Trump.
Last year, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked her about the nondisclosure agreement. He asked, “Why do you feel today that it’s not necessary to abide by that?”
She said, “I didn’t feel that the NDA mattered one way or the other because what I have to say is too important. And whether I had to publish this book on my own or suffer the consequences of a court battle, I didn’t care.”
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Mary Trump made a killing off that book. It came out during last year’s presidential campaigns, and it sold 1.3 million copies. It eventually surpassed John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened to become the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon.
In a statement to NBC News, Mary Trump said of the former president, “I think he is a loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can. It’s desperation. The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that he thinks will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”
Trump’s lawyers filed the suit in New York state.
“Donald J. Trump, the Forty-Fifth President of the United States, brings this action against Mary L. Trump, The New York Times, and its journalists,” the lawyers wrote. “For their collective efforts in tortiously breaching and/or interfering with his contractual rights and otherwise maliciously conspiring against him.”
The defendants engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records which they exploited for their own benefit and utilized as a means of falsely legitimizing their publicized works,” they continued, presumably referring to the niece’s bestselling book.
“New York Times, in the middle of an extensive crusade to obtain Donald J. Trump’s confidential tax records, relentlessly sought out his niece, Mary L. Trump, and convinced her to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office and turn them over to The Times.”
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“All the while, the parties knew full well that their actions were wrongful, as evidenced by their insistence on communicating through ‘burner’ phones and The Times,” they went on. “Donald J. Trump has suffered significant damages as a direct result of the defendants’ tortious conduct. Therefore, Donald J. Trump demands judgment.”
One Times reporter, Susanne Craig heard about the lawsuit and tweeted, “I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call that journalism.”
Notably, Craig neglected to comment on the scandalous allegation about her insistence on a burner phone.
— Susanne Craig (@susannecraig) September 22, 2021
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Trump’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit that the article was viewed more times online than any previous Times article. The New York Times Company’s stock price jumped 7.4% that week, they wrote.
The Times also accused Trump of tax fraud. However, at the time, the formal investigation was (and still is) ongoing. Trump’s lawyer has denied the accusations.
Last year ,Mary Trump sued her uncle after accusing him of cheating millions of dollars away from her. That case remains unresolved.
The Associated Press and The Horn editorial team contributed to this article.