Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. filed a defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday.
The complaint alleges that The Washington Post published false and defamatory statements of and concerning the campaign in two opinion articles published in June of 2019.
The first article the complaint cites is entitled, “Trump just invited another Russian attack. Mitch McConnell is making one more likely” by Greg Sargent on June 13, 2019.
The campaign alleges Sargent’s article made the defamatory claim 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.
They note in the complaint that the Mueller report explicitly said that no conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government, and no one within the United States intentionally coordinated with Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.
The second article was entitled, “Trump: I can win reelection with just my base” by Paul Waldman, published on June 20, 2019. The campaign alleges Waldman made a defamatory statement when he wrote, “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?”
The Trump campaign says no statement by anyone associated with the campaign or the administration “inviting” Russia or North Korea to assist the campaign was ever made. They also state no one has reported that anyone in the Trump campaign ever had any contact with North Korea related to any United States election.
“The statements were and are 100 percent false and defamatory. The complaint alleges The Post was aware of the falsity at the time it published them, but did so for the intentional purpose of hurting the campaign, while misleading its own readers in the process. The campaign files suit to publicly establish the truth and seek appropriate legal remedies for the harm caused by false reporting,” Jenna Ellis, senior legal advisor for the Trump campaign, said in a released statement.
This lawsuit follows a separate lawsuit filed against The New York Times six days ago over an op/ed they allege falsely suggested a quid pro quo between Russian officials and Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Defamation lawsuits involving public figures are challenging to win because, for the plaintiff to succeed, they have to prove that the writer or publisher acted with actual malice by knowing the falsity or by reckless disregard for the truth.
In the complaint, the campaign states that The Washington Post was aware since the Mueller Report was publicly available. They also point to statements made by the campaign and White House disavowing any intention to seek Russian assistance. They also note there was not “a shred of evidence” that the campaign contacted North Korea, and no other media outlet reported such a thing.
The campaign demands a jury trial and asks for millions of dollars in compensatory damages, as well as presumed and punitive damages.
Read the complaint below: