Why Did Trump Sue His Niece, The New York Times, and 3 Reporters?

Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against his niece Mary Trump, The New York Times, and three Times reporters for revealing confidential tax documents.

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Sep. 22 2021, Published 11:28 a.m. ET

Former President Trump
Source: Getty

Former President Trump, who has been involved in thousands of lawsuits over his lifetime, filed a new lawsuit on Sept. 21. In the suit, he takes on his niece, Mary Trump, along with The New York Times organization and three Times reporters.

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The primary accusation of Trump’s lawsuit is that three investigative Times reporters, Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russell Buettner, pressured Mary Trump to procure and release confidential documents about Trump’s tax returns.

What to know about the Mary Trump lawsuit

In a 2018 Times article, reporters claimed that Trump wasn't a self-made billionaire like he led the public to believe. In it, they provided documentation showing how his father Fred Trump had given him $413 million through his real estate empire, much of it through clever schemes to avoid full taxation.

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trump lawsuit new york times
Source: The New York Times Twitter

The article brought the three reporters a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2019. The judges that year said that their reporting had “revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges,” according to The New York Times.

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The current lawsuit doesn't mention a 2020 Times report that said Trump hadn't paid federal income taxes for 10 of the previous 15 years. It focuses solely on the 2018 article and says that Mary Trump shared confidential information, based on agreements regarding the late Fred Trump’s estate.

It also claims that The New York Times reporters knew that Mary Trump was under a confidentiality agreement but pursued her as a source anyway.

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In a tweet by reporter Craig, she defended herself.

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The former president alleges losses of $100 million due to his niece’s and the reporters’ actions, and he seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The newspaper has stated its intention to fight the lawsuit. The New York Times said, “This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it.”

Mary Trump’s book

In the 2020 book by Mary Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, she noted that she provided the financial documents used by The New York Times in its article exposing the family’s tax information.

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APNews reported that her book sold over 1.3 million copies within its first week, which made it to the number-one spot on The New York Times best-seller list.

Mary Trump gave an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos around the time of her book release. In it, she said that Trump was “utterly incapable of leading this country.” She also noted that she felt the non-disclosure agreement didn’t matter “one way or the other because what I have to say is too important.”

Mary Trump also sued the former president about a year ago. In that lawsuit, she claimed that Trump and two of his siblings cheated her out of millions of dollars and forced her to exit the family business. That case hasn't been resolved yet, AP News reported.


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