The Trump campaign has now sued two of the country’s major newspapers for defamation, accusing the Washington Post in D.C. federal court on Tuesday of slander over a June 2019 column.
The suit follows just one week after the Trump campaign sued the New York Times over a March 2019 opinion column.
In the new lawsuit – filed by the Gawker-killer attorney Charles Harder – the campaign accuses the Post of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth” in publishing a column by opinion writer Greg Sargent titled “Trump just invited another Russian attack. Mitch McConnell is making one more likely.”
(ed. note: Sargent worked as a reporter and blogger at TPM more than a decade ago.)
The lawsuit contends that the Post lied in the article about the Trump campaign seeking help from Russia when Sargent wrote “that Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that the Campaign ‘tried to conspire with’ a ‘sweeping and systematic’ attack by Russia against the 2016 United States presidential election.”
The Trump campaign claimed in the suit that the statement is “false and defamatory” because the Mueller report itself supposedly contracts it.
The lawsuit also claims that a second opinion piece, by Paul Waldman, published one week after the Sargent article is defamatory.
The Trump campaign focused in the lawsuit on a phrase from the Waldman article saying, “who knows what sort of aid Russia and North Korea will give to the Trump campaign, now that he has invited them to offer their assistance?”
In full context, Waldman was referring to an interview President Trump had done in which he said that “it’s not an interference, they have information” after the interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, asked the President if he would accept foreign help in the 2020 election.
“There has never been any statement by anyone associated with the Campaign or the administration ‘inviting’ Russia or North Korea to assist the Campaign in 2019 or beyond,” the lawsuit reads. “There also has never been any reporting that the Campaign has ever had any contact with North Korea relating to any United States election.”
The Trump campaign claimed in the suit that the articles were forcing them “to expend funds on corrective advertisements and to otherwise publicize the facts that it did not conspire with Russia in 2016 and is not seeking Russia’s or North Korea’s help in the 2020 election.”
The lawsuit also suggests that the Washington Post published the column as part of an effort to aid the Democratic Party.
“The Post has endorsed the Democrat in every United States presidential election since it started endorsing a presidential candidate in 1976, with the exception of 1988 when The Post did not endorse any candidate,” the suit reads.
The Trump campaign is seeking “millions of dollars” in damages from the suit.
Read the lawsuit here: