President Donald Trump's re-election campaign said Wednesday that he had filed a defamation lawsuit accusing the New York Times of deliberately publishing an article on wrong opinions that suggested Russia and the 2016 election campaign had an overarching deal.
In an escalation of the Republican president's longstanding struggle with the news media, campaign officials said the lawsuit would be filed with the New York State Supreme Court, the state's trial court.
Regardless, Trump attacked two other news organizations he frequently criticized, CNN and MSNBC, which accused them of minimizing the risk of the corona virus and disrupting financial markets.
The campaign said the goal of the lawsuit against the Times among the best-known American news organizations was to "hold the newspaper responsible for deliberately posting false statements against President Trump's campaign."
The lawsuit relates to an opinion article dated March 27, 2019 by Max Frankel, who served as editor-in-chief of the Times from 1986 to 1994.
A draft lawsuit attached to a campaign press release accused the newspaper of "extreme bias against (the campaign) and hostility" and cited the so-called "exuberance of the Times to unduly influence the November 2020 presidential election".
Trump is aiming for re-election on November 3.
In a statement, a spokesman for the New York Times said: "The Trump campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion leader for having an opinion that he considers unacceptable. Fortunately, the law protects it Americans' Right to Express Their Judgments and Conclusions We look forward to defending this right in this case. "
The newspaper spokesman said the suit had not been delivered and found out through media reports.
Trump's criticism of what he calls liberal bias in the US news media plays well with his conservative political base and often generates applause at his political rallies, which his followers often mock journalists.
The New York Times was involved in a landmark 1964 Supreme Court ruling that served as protection for media coverage of public figures.
In the New York Times v. Sullivan case, the court ruled that the US Constitution's first adjustment protection for press freedom allows for the publication of false statements, as long as the publication is not "malicious".
The opinion piece read "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo" and added: "The campaign and the Kremlin had an overarching agreement: Help beat Hillary Clinton for a new pro-Russian foreign policy." Consideration is a Latin term that means a favor in exchange for a favor.
The lawsuit arose from the Trump re-election campaign, but Trump himself has claimed that the Times is sometimes biased against him.
Trump has often referred to various news media as "fake news" and has referred to elements of the US news media as "the enemy of the American people".
Former special counsel Robert Mueller documented Moscow's hacking and social media propaganda campaign to strengthen Trump's candidacy for 2016 and harm his democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
It documented numerous contacts between people associated with Trump's campaign and Russians. Mueller did not find enough evidence to prove a criminal plot between Trump's team and Russia, but did not exonerate Trump from obstructing the judiciary's investigation.
In the statement, Frankel said: "Agreements – or a lack thereof – prove to be the rhetorical trap that entangled President Trump's persecutors."
Frankel added: "There was no need for detailed electoral coordination between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin's oligarchy because they had an overarching agreement: helping the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, which started with relief from the burdensome economic sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. The Trumpites knew about the consideration and kept the prospect of the consideration intact. "
Trump criticized defamation laws as "fraud and shame" in January 2018 after author Michael Wolff published a book on the White House entitled "Fire and Rage: In Trump's White House", which inter alia questions the president's opinion put health.
In February 2019, the conservative Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas asked his colleagues in the Supreme Court to consider removing the New York Times precedent against Sullivan.
In a statement on the lawsuit, Jenna Ellis, Donald J. Trump's chief legal counsel for President, Inc, said: "The statements were and are 100 percent false and defamatory. The complaint alleges that The Times is aware of the falsehood at the time it published she did so, with the deliberate purpose of violating the campaign, misleading her own readers. "
In a copy of his reelection team's lawsuit, the campaign said: "The Times was aware of the fact that the statements were made public that they were not true."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)