Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday against his niece Mary Trump and the New York Times stemming from explosive news articles about the former president’s taxes and finances.
Trump is seeking no less than $100 million in damages, accusing Mary of breaking a non-disclosure agreement by leaking his personal tax documents to the Times.
“The defendants engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records which they exploited for their own benefit and utilized as a means of falsely legitimizing their publicized works,” Trump attorney Alina Habba alleges in the 27-page complaint, filed in Dutchess County, New York Supreme Court.
“The defendants’ actions were motivated by a personal vendetta and their desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall and were further intended to advance their political agenda.”
Times’ reporters Susanne Craig, David Barstow and Russell Buettner were in an “extensive crusade” to get Trump’s tax records and “relentlessly sought out his niece, Mary L. Trump, and convinced her to smuggle the records out of her attorneys’ office and turn them over to The Times,” the lawsuit claims.
The Times reporters won a 2019 Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the president’s finances and taxes. The lawsuit accuses the Times of attempting to capitalize on Trump’s tax record through “their publication of various news articles.”
Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha told The Post the newspaper will fight the suit.
“The Times’s coverage of Donald Trump’s taxes helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest,” she wrote in an email.
“This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it.”
Mary Trump called the suit “desperation” in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“I think he is a f–king loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can,” Mary said, according to the Beast. “The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”
A non-disclosure between the feuding Trumps came after a legal battle over the estate of the ex-president’s father and Mary’s grandfather Fred Trump, who died in 1999, the lawsuit said. While the family fought over Fred and his wife’s assets, Mary obtained 40,000 pages of documents in discovery, the lawsuit states.
They settled the legal tiff, with the court records sealed and the parties signing a confidentiality pact, according to the complaint. But in September of 2016, after months of discussion Mary shared the documents with Craig, the suit states.
The reporters “persistently and relentlessly sought out” the records for the reports, and used “burner” phones during their reporting of the stories, the suit says.
The Times’ reporting on Trump’s taxes, included an October 2016 piece looking at how he avoided paying taxes in his New York, New Jersey and Connecticut returns, the complaint notes. A lengthy October 2018 story looked into alleged tax schemes by Trump is also mentioned.
Mary Trump has admitted to being a source to the Times and last year published a tell-all book called “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”