Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday sued his niece and the New York Times over a story about his taxes.
Trump’s attorneys say the defendants, Mary Trump and three New York Times journalists, collectively engaged in “an insidious plot” to obtain confidential records.
“The brazenness of the defendants’ actions cannot be understated. A group of journalists with the New York Times, in the middle of an extensive crusade to obtain Donald J. Trump’s confidential tax records, relentlessly sought out his niece, Mary L. Trump, and convinced her to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office and turn them over to The Times. All the while, the parties knew full well that their actions were wrongful, as evidenced by their insistence on communicating through ‘burner’ phones and The Times initial claims that the records were obtained from an ‘anonymous’ source,” the 26-page suit, filed the New York state court, said.
“The Times attempted to capitalize on their receipt of the confidential record through their publication of various news articles; Mary L. Trump eventually followed suit and, in an ill-conceived effort to profit from these same events, published a book revealing her as the source of the unauthorized disclosure and providing a detailed account of the defendants’ wrongful conduct,” the suit added.
Mary Trump entered into a settlement agreement in 2001 that said, in part, that she could not disclose records she obtained in a family legal battle.
The release of former President Trump’s tax documents violated that agreement, according to the new filing. Susanne Craig, one of the reporters, acknowledged as much in a public event in 2019, when she said that people who hand over taxes “are in legal jeopardy,” including when “you’ve got some sort of agreement with the president where you said you wouldn’t.”
Craig wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call that journalism.”
Mary Trump has admitted to leaking the records to the New York Times.
“I’m actually really proud of that. But I have to be honest with you, I didn’t even remember I had them,” she said on a podcast in February.
Former President Trump is seeking at least $100,000 in damages as well as restitution damages in the form of money Mary Trump made from her book and the New York Times made from its 2018 article.
The New York Times said in a statement that the lawsuit “is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it.”
Mary Trump told news outlets that Trump “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 will stick,” she added. “As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”
The lawsuit comes nearly one year after Mary Trump sued the former president. She alleged that her uncle and two of his siblings bilked her of financial earnings and properties she stood to gain through inheritance.