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Judge orders Donald Trump to pay New York Times legal fees after failed lawsuit

By Ehren Wynder
Former U.S. President Donald Trump sued the New York Times in 2021 over an investigation into his taxes, which he called an "insidious plot." A New York judge threw out the case in 2023, arguing the investigation falls under "protected First Amendment activity." Pool Photo by Michael M. Santiago/UPI
Former U.S. President Donald Trump sued the New York Times in 2021 over an investigation into his taxes, which he called an "insidious plot." A New York judge threw out the case in 2023, arguing the investigation falls under "protected First Amendment activity." Pool Photo by Michael M. Santiago/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A New York judge on Friday ordered Donald Trump to pay the New York Times nearly $400,000 in legal fees following his failed lawsuit against the newspaper.

Trump in 2021 sued his niece, Mary Trump, The Times and three of its reporters over a 2018 investigation into his taxes that included confidential tax records.

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In his suit, in which he sought $100 million in damages, Trump accused Times reporters of having a "personal vendetta" against him and engaging in an "insidious plot" to obtain his tax records.

New York Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed dismissed Trump's suit last May, saying the former president's claims "fail as a matter of constitutional law."

"Courts have long recognized that reporters are entitled to engage in legal and ordinary news-gathering activities without fear of tort liability -- as these actions are at the very core of protected First Amendment activity," Reed wrote.

The judge's ruling included an order for Trump to pay the legal fees of the Times and its reporters. The Times asked for $229,921 for itself and $162,717 for the reporters.

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Trump opposed the amount of money the Times requested, arguing the legal work included "unjustified or duplicative work and exorbitant hourly rates."

Reed maintained the requested amount was "reasonable," citing the "complexity of the issues" in the suit, the experience and ability of the defenses' attorneys, the amount in damages Trump sought and the defense attorney's success in getting the case dismissed.

The Times' investigation into Trump's tax records resulted in a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize in the category of explanatory reporting. Among those articles was one headlined, "Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches from His Father."

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