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Former US president Donald Trump sues niece and New York Times over bombshell tax story

Former US President Donald Trump has sued his estranged niece and The New York Times over a 2018 story about his family’s wealth and tax practices that was partly based on confidential documents she provided to the newspaper’s reporters.

Trump’s lawsuit, filed in state court in New York on Tuesday, 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’s story challenged Trump’s claims of self-made wealth by documenting how his father, Fred, had given him at least $413m over the decades, including through tax avoidance schemes.
A Times spokesperson, Danielle Rhoads Ha, said the lawsuit “is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it”.

The Times’s coverage of Trump’s taxes, she said, “helped inform citizens through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest”.

One of the Times reporters, Craig, responded in a tweet: “I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call that journalism.”

Trump is seeking $100m in damages.

Trump’s lawsuit alleges Mary Trump, the Times and its reporters “were motivated by a personal vendetta” against him and a desire to push a political agenda.
Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, debuted in the midst of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign last year. Donald Trump’s brother, Robert, tried unsuccessfully to have a court block the book’s publication, citing the 2001 settlement agreement.

Ruling in Mary Trump’s favor, a judge said the confidentiality clauses, “viewed in the context of the current Trump family circumstances in 2020, would ‘offend public policy as a prior restraint on protected speech”.

In the book, Mary Trump recounted providing the family financial records that underlaid the Times’ reporting. The book sold more than 1.3m copies in its first week and soaring to No 1 on the Times’s bestseller list.

In an interview connected with the release of the book, Mary Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos she didn’t feel the non-disclosure agreement “mattered one way or the other because what I have to say is too important

Source: theguardian

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