Former President Donald Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday against his estranged niece, Mary Trump, and the New York Times, claiming they conspired to obtain his tax returns for the paper’s Pulitzer-winning story on his undisclosed finances.
The lawsuit, filed in New York, accuses Mary Trump and newspaper reporters of being “engaged in an insidious plot” to obtain confidential documents.
It alleges that Ms. Trump, 56, breached a settlement agreement barring her from disclosing the documents.
The lawsuit asserts that Mary Trump and three Times reporters — Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russell Buettner — were engaged in what the suit calls an “insidious plot” and an “extensive crusade” to obtain Trump’s taxes.
“The defendants engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records which they exploited for their benefit and utilized as a means of falsely legitimizing their publicized works,” the lawsuit claims.
On Tuesday, a lawsuit filed in a state court accused New York Times journalists Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russell Buettner of contacting and working with Mr. Trump’s niece as part of a “personal vendetta” against him.
“A group of journalists with the New York Times, in the middle of an extensive crusade to obtain Donald J Trump’s confidential tax records, relentlessly sought out his niece Mary… and convinced her to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office,” the lawsuit reads.
In response, Ms. Trump said the lawsuit was a sign of “desperation”.
“The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick,” she told the Daily Beast. “As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”
Ms. Trump revealed herself as the source of the story in a tell-all memoir in 2020.
In her book, Ms. Trump describes how she supplied tax documents to the New York Times, which were used to form part of a 14,000-word investigative article into Mr. Trump’s “dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents”.
One of the reporters named in the lawsuit, Ms. Craig, tweeted in response to the allegations: “I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call that journalism.”
A New York Times spokeswoman, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said the newspaper’s coverage of Mr. Trump’s taxes “helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest”, and that the lawsuit was “an attempt to silence independent news organizations”.