President Trump's campaign says it's suing the New York Times for libel over Russia op-ed

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President Donald Trump

  • The Trump campaign announced the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon, accusing The New York Times of knowingly publishing a false story about Russia collusion.
  • The article in question, written by former executive editor Max Frankel in 2019, was an opinion piece and clearly labeled as such.
  • "The Times obviously had a malicious motive, and also acted with reckless disregard for truth," a draft of the complaint reads.
  • Almost a year after the Mueller Report was released, Trump is still unleashing his ire over the investigation as he heads into reelection in November.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's reelection campaign announced their plans to sue The New York Times for libel in a Wednesday afternoon news release. 

In a draft complaint, the Trump campaign alleges that The New York Times knowingly published a false story about Russian collusion in an op-ed from March last year. Advertisement

The article was written in March 2019 by Max Frankel, The Times' executive editor from 1986 to 1994, and is clearly labeled an opinion story under the headline "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo."

Wednesday's announcement marks a significant escalation in Trump's efforts to go after the free press. 

While he has threatened to sue The Times before and not followed through - with his lawyer warning of a libel suit in October of 2016 but never following through - this is the first time he has threatened legal action against the paper as the sitting president. Charles Harder, the attorney who sucessfully sued Gawker Media on behalf Hulk Hogan, is representing the Trump campaign.

The Trump campaign's draft complaint argues the paper knowingly published the Frankel op-ed to smear the president. 

"The Times obviously had a malicious motive, and also acted with reckless disregard for truth," the draft complaint reads. "Extensive information ... had put The Times and the world on notice that there was no conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government, and there wsa no 'quid pro quo' or 'deal' between them."Frankel's story makes the case that in the case of Russian interference and collusion, "There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin's oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration's burdensome economic sanctions.Advertisement

"The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo."

Read a draft of the complaint below.