The piece, written by Max Frankel, executive editor of the Times from 1986 to 1994, focused on the reported dealings between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
“President Trump has watered down the sanctions and otherwise appeased Russian interests, even at the expense of America’s allies,” Frankel wrote.
The complaint, filed in New York, claims the op-ed contains “false and defamatory statements.” In the lawsuit, attorney Charles Harder, who also represented Hulk Hogan in the case against Gawker Media, requests compensatory damages in the “millions of dollars” as well as presumed and punitive damages.
“The Times obviously had a malicious motive, and also acted with reckless disregard for the truth,” according to the complaint (embedded below).
The opinion staff of The New York Times is separate from the editorial staff, and over the course of his term in office, Trump has often conflated opinion writing with fact-based reporting, labeling every criticism of him and his administration as “fake news.”
Trump’s reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale took to Twitter to further criticize the Times over what he called “publishing known falsehoods.”
“Every assault on the President is an attack on the great patriots who support him,” Parscale said. “And Trump fights back!”
New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said in a statement that the Trump campaign “turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable.”
“Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case,” Murphy said.
Trump’s attorney has threatened to sue The New York Times, and other outlets, over detailed reports written by journalists including after the paper published an investigative piece into Trump’s tax practices and another report about nonconsensual touching.
The Times opinion staff was also drawn into the spotlight when Sarah Palin filed a defamation suit against the paper over an editorial that erroneously linked the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords with Palin’s political action committee. The case was revived in August last year after it had been initially dismissed.