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Trump sues niece, NY Times for records behind 2018 tax story that won Pulitzer


Former President Trump sued his ex-niece and the New York Times on Tuesday for a 2018 story about her family’s fortunes and tax practices, which was in part based on confidential documents she provided to reporters at the newspaper.

Trump’s lawsuit, filed in state court in New York, accuses Mary Trump of violating a settlement agreement by disclosing tax records she received in a dispute over the estate of family patriarch Fred Trump .

The lawsuit accuses The Times and three of its investigative reporters, Susanne Craig, David Barstow and Russell Buettner, of relentlessly seeking out Mary Trump as a source of information and convincing her to hand over documents. The lawsuit alleges reporters knew the settlement agreement prevented it from disclosing the documents.

The Times story challenged Trump’s claims of self-made wealth by documenting how his father, Fred, had given him at least $ 413 million over the decades, including through tax evasion schemes.

Mary Trump identified herself in a book published last year as the source of the documents provided to The Times.

Trump’s lawsuit alleges that Mary Trump, the Times and his reporters “were motivated by a personal vendetta” against him and a desire to advance a political agenda.

The defendants “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly sensitive documents which they exploited for their own benefit and used as a means of falsely legitimizing their high-profile works,” the lawsuit said.

In a statement to NBC News, Mary Trump said of her uncle, “I think he’s a loser, and he’s going to throw everything against the wall he can. It is despair. The walls close and he throws everything against the wall he thinks to stick. As always with Donald, he will try to change the subject.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoads Ha said the lawsuit “is an attempt to silence independent news agencies and we plan to vigorously defend against it.”

The Times coverage of Trump’s taxes, she said, “helped educate citizens through meticulous reporting on a matter of major public interest.”

One of the Times reporters, Craig, replied in a tweet: “I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call it journalism.

Trump is seeking $ 100 million in damages.

Trump filed his lawsuit almost a year to the day after Mary Trump sued him over allegations that he and two of his siblings defrauded him millions of dollars over several decades while expelling him from the family business.

This case is pending.

Mary Trump, 56, is the daughter of Donald Trump’s brother, Fred Trump Jr., who died in 1981 at the age of 42. Mary Trump was 16 at the time.

Trump’s trial focuses solely on the story of The Times in 2018, which won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. He makes no mention of another Times scoop on Trump’s taxes last year, which revealed he had not paid any federal income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years.

According to the lawsuit, Mary Trump came into possession of more than 40,000 pages of “highly sensitive, proprietary, private and confidential documents” in connection with a court case involving Fred Trump’s will.

The documents included financial records, accounts, tax returns, bank statements and legal documents relating to Donald Trump, Fred Trump and their companies, according to the Trump lawsuit.

In 2001, about two years after Fred Trump’s death, Mary Trump and other family members entered into a settlement agreement with confidentiality and nondisclosure clauses that prohibited them from sharing information about the estate of Fred Trump in, among other things, newspaper articles, according to Trump’s trial. The deal also covered the estate of Fred’s wife, Mary Anne Trump, who died in 2000.

Trump, who has repeatedly criticized The Times during his presidency as the “failed New York Times”, noted in the lawsuit that the 2018 article was viewed more online than any previous Times article. and that the New York Times Co.’s share price jumped 7.4%. the week it worked.

The Times story stated that Donald Trump and his father avoided gift and inheritance taxes through methods such as setting up a shell company and undervaluing assets with the tax authorities. The Times says his report was based on more than 100,000 pages of financial documents, including confidential tax returns from the father and his businesses.

Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” came out in the midst of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign last year. Donald Trump’s brother Robert tried unsuccessfully to have the book’s publication blocked by a court, citing the 2001 settlement agreement.

Ruling in favor of Mary Trump, a judge said the confidentiality clauses, “viewed in the context of Trump’s current family situation in 2020, … would offend public order as a pre-restriction on protected speech.”

In the book, Mary Trump recounted providing the family financial records that underpin the Times reports. The book sold over 1.3 million copies in its first week and topped the Times bestseller list.

In an interview related to the book’s release, Mary Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that she didn’t think the nondisclosure agreement “somehow mattered because what j I have to say is too important “.