U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has filed a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times for an editorial on Trump’s ties to Russia last year,media outlet The Verge reported. The article notes that Russia and the Trump campaign have built a warm relationship for mutual benefit, that the Russians offered to help undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, and that the Trump team had floated the idea of easing sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama.
In a statement provided to The Verge, the New York Times said: “The Trump campaign has turned to the courts to punish writers for expressing their own unacceptable views. Fortunately, the law protects Americans’ right to express their judgment and conclusions, especially for events of public importance. We look forward to proving that right in such circumstances. “
The lawsuit singled out the term “quid pro quo,” which is often seen as a specific deal between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report failed to find clear evidence of such a deal, but The Times commented that such evidence was not necessary and that mutually beneficial relationships themselves were seen as “conditions of exchange”.
Still, the use of the term appears to have angered the Trump campaign. It’s a term that Trump often uses; since October 2019, Trump has used it 19 times in tweets. All but two tweets defended a July 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodmir Zelensky in which Trump and his aides allegedly tried to coerce the Ukrainian government into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
During the 2016 campaign, WikiLeaks released a number of internal emails containing information from the Democratic National Committee. The emails are believed to have been stolen and leaked by Russian intelligence agents. Russia has been meddling in the 2020 presidential election to help Trump re-elect, according to a briefing submitted to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month. The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on the briefing.
The Trump campaign has not responded to a request for comment.