The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced it filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Times, accusing the newspaper of intentionally publishing a false story last year related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The story in question was actually an opinion piece written by former Times executive editor Max Frankel, titled "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo".
In it, Frankel writes that the Trump campaign and the Kremlin had an overarching deal to "help beat Hillary Clinton for a new pro-Russian foreign policy." (SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "The fake news media..." The lawsuit is a major escalation of Trump's long-running battle with the news media.
(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "You got a lot of crooked journalists.
You're crooked as hell." (SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I'm not concerned about anything with the Russian investigation because it's a hoax.
Put down the mic." The president has also contended the Times has often been biased against him.
(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "New York Times, can you believe?
Failing New York Times." Trump campaign officials said the lawsuit was being filed in the New York State Supreme Court.
A statement from the campaign said the aim of the litigation was to "hold the news organization accountable for intentionally publishing false statements against President Trump's campaign." In response, The New York Times said: "The Trump campaign has 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." Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation documented Moscow's campaign of hacking and social media propaganda to boost Trump's 2016 candidacy and harm his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "It's a Democrat hoax." While Mueller's investigation led to indictments and convictions of several close Trump associates, it found insufficient evidence to show a criminal conspiracy between Trump's team and Russia in its interference on his behalf in the 2016 election.
(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "No collusion." It also did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice in seeking to impede the investigation but stopped short of concluding the president acted unlawfully.