Former President Trump on Tuesday sued his estranged niece and the New York Times over a 2018 story about his family’s wealth and tax practices that was partly based on confidential documents she provided to the newspaper’s reporters. Trump’s lawsuit, filed in state court in New York, accuses Mary Trump of breaching a settlement agreement by disclosing tax records she received in a dispute over family patriarch Fred Trump’s estate, the AP reports. The lawsuit accuses the Times and three of its investigative reporters, Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russell Buettner, of relentlessly seeking out Mary Trump as a source of information and convincing her to turn over documents. The suit claims the reporters were aware the settlement agreement barred her from disclosing the documents.
The Times’ story challenged Trump’s claims of self-made wealth by documenting how his father, Fred, had given him at least $413 million over the decades, including through tax avoidance schemes. Mary Trump identified herself in a book published last year as the source of the documents provided to the Times. Trump’s lawsuit alleges Mary Trump, the Times and its reporters “were motivated by a personal vendetta” against him and a desire to push a political agenda. 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,” the lawsuit says. Trump is seeking $100 million in damages.
In a statement to NBC News, Mary Trump said of her uncle, “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.” A Times spokesperson, Danielle Rhoads Ha, said the lawsuit “is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it.” Trump filed his lawsuit almost a year to the day after Mary Trump sued him over allegations that he and two of his siblings cheated her out of millions of dollars over several decades while squeezing her out of the family business. That case is pending.
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