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Trump sues his niece and NYT for $100m alleging an ‘insidious plot’ to reveal his taxes

·3 min read
File: Donald Trump speaks to the crowd at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on 11 September 2021 in Florida (Getty Images)
File: Donald Trump speaks to the crowd at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on 11 September 2021 in Florida (Getty Images)

Donald Trump has filed a $100mn (£73.2mn) lawsuit against his niece Mary Trump, the New York Times (NYT), and three of its reporters over a 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning story on his tax records.

The lawsuit said they hatched an “insidious plot” to obtain his undisclosed finances “which they exploited for their own benefit and utilised as a means of falsely legitimising their publicised works.”

The story detailed allegations of Mr Trump’s participation in “dubious tax schemes.”

While the former president said he got almost no financial help from his father Fred C Trump, the paper’s 2018 investigation revealed he received an equivalent of at least $413mn (£302.5mn) from the senior Trump’s real estate empire, debunking his claim of being a self-made billionaire.

The report added that much of the money came because he helped his parents dodge taxes.

The complaint, filed in New York’s Dutchess county, said while Mr Trump’s niece had signed a confidentiality agreement in 2001 following a legal challenge to her grandfather’s will, NYT reporters Susanne Craig, David Barstow and Russell Buettner “relentlessly sought out” Ms Trump and “convinced her to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office” and share it with them.

The lawsuit claimed NYT “attempted to capitalise on their receipt of the confidential record through their publication of various news articles.”

Mr Trump claimed his niece was also involved in “an ill-conceived effort to profit from these same events” by publishing her memoir Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

A judge in 2020 had allowed the publication of the book, after a legal challenge from Mr Trump’s brother Robert Trump, saying that the non-disclosure agreement signed in 2001 was “too vague“ and that the publishers Simon & Schuster were not a “party to the agreement.”

The former president in his Tuesday suit claimed that “in clear and blatant violation of the Settlement Agreement, Mary Trump turned over the Confidential Records (sic)” to the NYT reporters.

It added that, at the time, the journalists were also aware about the existence of the settlement agreement and the confidentiality provision.

He said the article received a “record-breaking amount of attention, garnering more views than any previous article” in the newspaper’s history, with its stock rising by 7.4 per cent during the week of the publication.

Mr Trump, who unlike other presidents, declined to make his tax records public, said in the lawsuit that he suffered damages “no less than One Hundred Million Dollars” as a result of the alleged actions.

Daily Beast first reported the story about the lawsuit. In response to the legal action, Ms Trump told the news portal that she thought her uncle was “a f***ing loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can.”

“It’s desperation,” she said. “The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick.”

“As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”

A spokesperson for NYT said their coverage of Mr Trump’s taxes “helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest. This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organisations and we plan to vigorously defend against it."

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