Trump Campaign Sues The Washington Post for Libel

President Trump’s re-election campaign sued The Washington Post for libel on Tuesday, citing two opinion articles from last year that linked Mr. Trump to Russian election interference. The action came a week after Mr. Trump’s campaign filed a similar lawsuit against The New York Times.

Mr. Trump’s attacks on news organizations have been a defining mark of his presidency, and The Post has been one of his frequent targets. In 2017, the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles by David Farenthold that examined Mr. Trump’s philanthropic claims. The president has often belittled The Post and its owner, Jeff Bezos, the billionaire Amazon founder, who bought it in 2013.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, centers on two opinion articles from a Post blog called The Plum Line that accused the 2016 Trump election campaign of inviting help from foreign governments. The Post’s opinion section operates separately from its newsroom.

In one post, published on June 13, Greg Sargent wrote that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, had “concluded that Trump and/or his campaign eagerly encouraged, tried to conspire with, and happily profited off” Russia’s efforts.

In a post on June 20, Paul Waldman wrote: “Who knows what sort of aid Russia and North Korea will give to the Trump campaign, now that he has invited them to offer their assistance?” The word “invited” in the article was hyperlinked to a transcript of an ABC News interview with Mr. Trump, in which he said he would consider accepting information from a foreign government about a political opponent.

The Trump campaign accused The Post of making “false and defamatory” statements.

“There has never been any statement by anyone associated with the campaign or the administration ‘inviting’ Russia or North Korea to assist the campaign in 2019 or beyond,” the court filing said. “There also has never been any reporting that the campaign has ever had any contact with North Korea relating to any United States election.”

A spokeswoman for The Post, Kristine Coratti Kelly, said on Tuesday, “It’s disappointing to see the president’s campaign committee resorting to these types of tactics, and we will vigorously defend this case.”

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer at Gibson Dunn who has previously worked on high-profile media cases, said the lawsuit “flies in the face of basic First Amendment doctrine.”

“The complaint is attacking opinions where the authors are expressing their views based on widely reported facts,” he said. “It’s all part of the overarching war on the press.”

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