Trump Cheers Nick Sandmann’s Libel Suit Against Washington Post

October 30, 2019 Updated: October 30, 2019

President Donald Trump cheered a judge’s decision to let the libel suit from a teenager against the Washington Post move forward.

“A Federal Judge is allowing the Nick Sandmann libel suit to move forward against the thoroughly disgusting Washington Post (which is no longer available at the White House!),” Trump said on Oct. 30.

“He could now have a good chance of winning. Go Nick!”

Sandmann filed the suit over stories the paper published that were full of errors, the first one based on an edited video clip of an encounter Sandmann had with Native American activist Nathan Phillips in Washington. The paper wrongly said Phillips was a Vietnam veteran and alleged Sandmann blocked or impeded Phillips from moving.

“The Court will adhere to its previous rulings as they pertain to these statements except Statements 10, 11, and 33, to the extent that these three statements state that plaintiff ‘blocked’ Nathan Phillips and ‘would not allow him to retreat,'” U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman said in his ruling this week about the statements claiming Sandmann was blocking Phillips.

President Donald Trump gestures during the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois on Oct. 28, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

“Suffice to say that the Court has given this matter careful review and concludes that ‘justice requires’ that discovery be had regarding these statements and their context. The Court will then consider them anew on summary judgment,” he added.

The Washington Post said in a lengthy editor’s note that its coverage initially relied on faulty information. “Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story,” including one from Phillips, the paper said.

The paper also noted that it incorrectly said Phillips fought in the Vietnam War.

In its defense against Sandmann’s lawsuit, the paper has argued that the 33 statements outlined by Sandmann’s lawyers constituted opinion, not fact. Thirty of the statements do constitute opinion, Bertelsman ruled.

The paper declined to comment to its own reporter after the decision this week.

Trump has previously championed Sandmann, writing on Twitter on Feb. 20: “Covington student suing WAPO. Go get them Nick. Fake News!”

The other part of his statement on Wednesday referred to the White House halting subscriptions to the Washington Post and New York Times.

The White House stopped receiving the papers last week, though it kept subscriptions to other publications.

The White House press secretary also suggested that direct federal agencies will stop subscribing to the papers.

“Not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving for taxpayers—hundreds of thousands of dollars,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement about the decision.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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