A New York judge ordered Donald Trump to pay $392,638 in legal fees to The New York Times after his failed lawsuit against the news outlet and its journalists over the disclosure of his tax information in a 2018 Times article, according to court documents.
Judge Robert R. Reed granted the Times’ motion to dismiss the Trump case against it and its journalists in May 2023, concluding the journalists’ conduct was protected by the New York Constitution.
Among the claims that Trump brought against the Times was the accusation that the journalists were liable for “tortious interference” in how they allegedly sought out his niece and caused her to allegedly breach a 2001 settlement contract with the Trump family, CNN previously reported.
At the time, the judge said he was dismissing the claim against the Times “because The Times’ purpose in reporting on a story of a high public interest constitutes justification as a matter of law.”
The judge also pointed to recent amendments made to New York’s so-called anti-SLAPP law — which provides a mechanism for defendants to seek quick dismissal of lawsuits that target conduct protected by the First Amendment — in explaining why he was ordering the dismissal of the defendants and the payment of their attorneys’ fees.
“The revised anti-SLAPP law was specifically designed to apply to lawsuits like this one,” Judge Reed wrote. “In fact, among other reasons, plaintiffs’ history of litigation – that some observers have described as abusive and frivolous – inspired the expansion of the law.”
The New York Times said Friday the court’s decision was a message to people who want to silence journalists.
“Today’s decision shows that the state’s newly amended anti-SLAPP statute can be a powerful force for protecting press freedom,” Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement. “The court has sent a message to those who want to misuse the judicial system to try to silence journalists.”
Trump’s estranged niece Mary Trump is now the only defendant in the lawsuit. Donald Trump alleges she broke a prior settlement agreement when she gave his tax records to the New York Times reporter.
On Friday, Reed also denied a request by Mary Trump’s attorneys to put the case on hold so she could appeal a June 9 decision that allowed some of Donald Trump’s claims against her proceed. The judge also denied Mary Trump’s applications to be reimbursed for legal fees in that order.
An attorney for Mary Trump declined to comment on the ruling Friday.
Donald Trump’s attorney Alina Habba commented on both decisions Friday.
“While we are disappointed that the NY Times is no longer in this matter, we are pleased that the Court once again affirmed the strength of our claims against Mary and is denying her attempt to avoid accountability,” Habba said in a statement to CNN. “We look forward to proceeding with our claims against her.”