OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Donald Trump is known as a strategist and he has apparently been biding his time while taking plenty of arrows from detractors and political enemies since leaving office amid the scandal of the Jan. 6 riot.
On Wednesday, reports noted that Trump has filed a $100 million lawsuit against The New York Times and his niece, Mary Trump, after she gave the paper copies of the former president’s tax returns, allegedly in violation of a confidentiality agreement.
The Associated Press reports:
Trump’s lawsuit, filed in state court in New York, accuses Mary Trump of breaching a settlement agreement by disclosing tax records she received in a dispute over family patriarch Fred Trump’s estate.
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 turn over documents. The suit claims the reporters were aware the settlement agreement barred her from disclosing the documents.
The Times report alleged that Trump was not the self-made man he claimed to be and that over the years his father, Fred Trump, gave him as much as $413 million, the AP added, including through various schemes to legally avoid paying taxes.
In a book she published last year, Mary Trump identified herself as the person who gave the Times her uncle’s tax returns; the lawsuit alleges that in doing so, she violated a confidentiality agreement dating back to 2001.
The suit claims that Mary Trump, the Times, and its journalists “were motivated by a personal vendetta” against him and were pursuing a political agenda.
The defendants “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records which they exploited for their own benefit and utilized as a means of falsely legitimizing their publicized works,” the lawsuit notes further.
Mary Trump responded to the suit in a statement to NBC News.
“I think he is a loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can. It’s desperation. The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that he thinks will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject,” she said.
“The Times’ coverage of Donald Trump’s taxes helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest. This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it,” a spokesperson for the paper said.
Craig responded in a tweet: “I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call that journalism.”
— Susanne Craig (@susannecraig) September 22, 2021
“Trump filed his lawsuit almost a year to the day after Mary Trump sued him over allegations that he and two of his siblings cheated her out of millions of dollars over several decades while squeezing her out of the family business,” the AP reported. “That case is pending.”
Her father, Fred Trump, Donald’s brother, died in 1981 at age 42; she was 16 at the time.
According to Trump’s lawsuit, Mary Trump came into possession of more than 40,000 pages of “highly sensitive, proprietary, private and confidential documents” via a legal case involving her father’s will.
The AP notes further:
The documents including financial records, accounting, tax returns, bank statements, and legal papers pertaining to Donald Trump, Fred Trump, and their businesses, Trump’s lawsuit said.
In 2001, about two years after Fred Trump died, Mary Trump and other family members entered into a settlement agreement with confidentiality and non-disclosure clauses that barred them from sharing information about Fred Trump’s estate in, among other venues, newspaper stories, Trump’s lawsuit said. The agreement also covered the estate of Fred’s wife, Mary Anne Trump, who died in 2000.
The Times has already knocked Trump over his taxes in a previous story detailing how he did not pay any federal income taxes for 10 of the previous 15 years, though the paper did not assert that the former real estate developer-turned-president violated any tax laws.
In a statement to the Daily Beast, Trump said, “More to come, including on other people, and Fake News media.”