Sunday, March 1, 2020

Trump campaign sues New York Times for defamation

Donald J Trump for President, Inc. (the official name of Trump's reelection campaign) filed suit against the New York Times for libel last Wednesday claiming defamation by the author of an Op-ed piece.  According to the complaint, the plaintiff's reputation was damaged by statements in the opinion article that there was an “overreaching deal between the Putin Oligarchy and the Trump campaign to help the campaign against Hilary Clinton.”

The reaction I have seen to the complaint has been consistent in that it is almost certainly guaranteed to fail, for the most part, because the article represents an opinion rather than an assertion of fact.  It has also been criticized as mere political hyperbole, not a complaint based on actual facts.

I agree that the case is likely to fail, although I think it can be argued that some of the statements in the piece can be read to assert facts rather than opinion.

What is more interesting to me is something else.  I wonder if the plaintiff's lawyers realize that if the case is not dismissed on a motion to dismiss and proceeds to discovery, the newspaper could serve Trump with a subpoena to appear in a deposition as part of discovery.  That would be fun to watch.

For comments on the complaint, check out the following:

Jonathan Turley ("The selection of an opinion piece makes this case especially difficult. . . .  In my view, the column is protected speech under the First Amendment.")

New York Personal Injury Law Blog ("First off, the complaint doesn’t start well as it’s supposed to be written with actual facts. This one is chock full of political hyperbole. . . . And most folks with functioning neurons — and I think most of our judges have them — know that when that kind of nonsense appears in a complaint it’s to mask the emptiness of the complaint.")

Courthouse News Service


The Daily Beast

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