New York Judge James d’Auguste allowed (pdf) the NY Times to dismiss the lawsuit on March 9, which had sought millions in damages.
Max Frankel, the former executive editor of the paper, had alleged in an opinion piece that Trump had “an overarching deal” with “[Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy” during the 2016 election.
The article was seemingly part of a continuous media-driven campaign to tie Trump to Putin. However, in 2019, then-special counsel Robert Mueller found that Trump’s campaign didn’t collaborate with Moscow after a months-long investigation.
D’Auguste, a Democrat, provided three reasons why the suit should be dismissed. First, he said, the opinion article was “nonactionable opinion,” and he made note of “the overall context in which the article was published, in the opinion section of the newspaper.”
Second, “the challenged statements are not ‘of and concerning’ plaintiff, which is a necessary element for a defamation action,” he wrote. “Further, a corporate entity has no standing to sue over statements that concern an entity’s employees or affiliates, but not the entity itself.”
In elaborating, the judge said Frankel’s column was about Trump’s family members and associates and not about the campaign itself.
“Third, even if Mr. Frankel’s commentary was actionable as factual assertions, and even if such assertions were of and concerning the Trump campaign, the complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to support the requirement that the Times published the challenged statements with actual malice,” according to D’Auguste’s ruling.
The judge, however, denied the NY Times’ “application for the imposition of sanctions.”
Previously, Trump’s campaign filed lawsuits against CNN and The Washington Post over similar Russian collusion stories. The lawsuit against CNN was dismissed last year.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Trump’s team for comment.
Throughout his presidency, Trump repeatedly pilloried stories and narratives that alleged he colluded with Russia, frequently describing it as the greatest political “witch hunt” in U.S. history.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe this week said that former U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was leading a probe into the origins of the Trump–Russia probe within the FBI and Department of Justice, agreed there was no intelligence that Trump or his campaign colluded with the Kremlin.
“Last summer, we went over the intelligence, and we all unanimously agreed that there was no intelligence from the intelligence community that reflected actual, real Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, but there was intelligence that it was created by the Hillary Clinton campaign, and that there was no proper predicate for Crossfire Hurricane to begin,” Ratcliffe, a Trump appointee, said during an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”