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Trump campaign sues New York Times for libel over 2019 op-ed piece

Posted at 2:50 PM, Feb 26, 2020

The Trump campaign filed a libel lawsuit against The New York Times on Wednesday, claiming that the paper made "false and defamatory" statements against the president by publishing an opinion piece by journalist Max Frankel.

Filed in New York Supreme Court, the Trump campaign's lawsuit alleges that opinion piece, published on March 27, 2019 — five days after the report by special counsel Robert Mueller was sent to AG William Barr — included "intentional false reporting" regarding the campaign's dealings with Russia in the run-up to the 2016 election.

In his column, Frankel writes that "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."

The Trump campaign argues that the Times knowingly published Frankel's column, despite the fact that Mueller had ruled out direct coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Hours after receiving the Mueller's report on March 22, Barr wrote a letter to Congress that included Mueller's findings. Mueller's full report would not be released to the public until weeks later, on April 18.

The Mueller report noted that Russian officials attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor by peddling disinformation that would be favorable to his campaign. At multiple points throughout the 2016 presidential election, Trump noted that he would "get along" with Russia should be elected president.

The Trump campaign is seeking "compensatory damages in the millions" in damages, presumed damages, punitive damages the cost of the suit, and other relief.