Trump Campaign Files Defamation Lawsuit against The Washington Post over Claims in Opinion Editorial of Collusion with Russia

For the second time in a week, President Trump’s reelection campaign filed a defamation lawsuit against a major media outlet. The target of this lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., is The Washington Post. The allegedly defamatory statements at issue in the lawsuit come from two opinion pieces published by the Washington Post in June 2019.

One of the articles, entitled “Trump: I can win reelection with just my base,” was written by opinion writer for The Washington Post, Paul Waldman. In his piece, Waldman quipped that “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 President’s reelection campaign alleges in the libel complaint that the statement is false and defamatory because no one associated with the campaign has made any statements inviting assistance from Russia or North Korea in the upcoming election.

The other article, entitled “Trump just invited another Russian attack. Mitch McConnell is making one more likely,” was also penned by an opinion writer at the Washington Post. This second piece “contained the defamatory claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that the Campaign ‘tried to conspire with’ a ‘sweeping and systematic’ attack by Russia against the 2016 United States presidential election,” the complaint alleges. The complaint argues that statements concerning the conclusion of the Mueller report are false and that “[i]n fact, Special

Counsel Mueller’s Report . . . came to the opposite conclusion.” Trump’s campaign argues that the Mueller Report actually concluded that there was no conspiracy between then-candidate Trump’s campaign and Russia or any coordination with Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.

The lawsuit alleges that The Washington Post “was well aware at the time of publishing the foregoing statements that they were not true” due to the fact that “the Mueller Report is a public record” and had been “extensively” covered by the media outlet. As further evidence that statements concerning collusion with Russia are false, the complaint cites “statements from the Campaign and the White House expressly disavowing any intention to seek Russian assistance.”

The complaint alleges that the articles are “part of The Post’s systematic pattern of bias against the Campaign, designed to maliciously interfere with and damage its reputation and ultimately cause the organization to fail.” The respected media institution would engage in such libelous activities, the complaint claims, because it is “extremely biased against the Campaign, and against Republicans in general.” As evidence of this alleged bias, the complaint points to “the fact that The Post has endorsed the Democrat in every United States presidential election since it started endorsing a presidential candidate in 1976, with the exception of 1988 when The Post did not endorse any candidate.” The lawsuit claims the articles will require costly efforts for the campaign to correct the record and that filing the suit was necessary to “publicly establish the truth” and “properly inform The Post’s readers (and the rest of the world) of the true facts…”

A copy of the complaint is available here.

Whether you are being accused of harming someone’s reputation or you believe someone else has harmed your reputation by making defamatory statements, it is important to consult an experienced slander and libel law attorney. Our DuPage County defamation attorneys defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. You can view here a federal court decision where we prevailed in a libel per se claim asserting the innocent infringer defense. Here is an arbitration decision where we successfully defended our client by presenting evidence that our client’s 20+ YouTube videos containing negative opinions about a used car dealer were substantially true and were protected opinion under the First Amendment. We recently required a defendant who publicized an allegedly false lawsuit regarding our client to provide an apology and full retraction as part of a confidential financial settlement following our filing of a $16 million suit for libel per se in federal district court.

Our Chicago and Wheaton slander attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area, including in Wilmette and Evanston, who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline media. We have successfully represented businesses that have been the victims of false rating websites created by competitors to publish defamatory content about our business clients. Beyond slander and libel law, our Chicago business, commercial, class-action, and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. We serve clients throughout Illinois and the Chicagoland area.  You can contact us online here or call us on our toll-free number at 833-306-4933 or locally at 630-333-0333.

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