Trump Just Got Legal Win In NY Appeals Court

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

After being found guilty of a crime on Thursday, former president Donald Trump has a bright spot: he will now be able to sue his niece for giving the New York Times information on his tax returns in 2018.

The same day, according to Reuters, a New York state court of appeals decided that the former president had the right to sue Mary Trump for giving the mainstream media, which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation, private information about his tax returns. As part of a settlement pertaining to Fred Trump Sr.’s estate, the Manhattan Appellate Division determined that there was a “substantial” legal basis for Trump to contend that Mary Trump had broken an agreement tying the documents to confidentiality. The ruling affirmed a similar ruling made by state Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed in 2023. However, Reed had earlier dismissed Trump’s lawsuits against the Times writers and imposed a $392,639 compensation order.

Although the five-member appeals court stated that a date for the agreement still needs to be resolved, Trump is anticipated to claim that the arrangement was still in place at the time of the leak. According to some parts of the ruling, President Trump might only be eligible for a small portion of the $100 million in damages he is suing his niece for. The court stated in its ruling that, “at the very least, nominal damages may still be available on the breach of contract claim even in the absence of actual damages.”

Lawyers for Mary Trump criticized the ruling, claiming it overlooked the former president’s attempts to “chill and retaliate against” her for communicating with a media source. This tactic is known as a SLAPP defense, or strategic lawsuits against public participation.

“Mary has made valuable contributions to the public’s knowledge of the former president with her unique perspective as a family member,” her lawyer Anne Champion said in a statement. “We are confident she will be vindicated as the case proceeds.” Champion added that Trump “can claim no injury for the publication of truthful information.”

In praising the ruling, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba stated that Mary Trump will be held “fully accountable for her blatant and egregious breach of contract.”

In the hours since the announcement of the Republican presidential front-runner’s verdict in the hush money trial, the case against his niece might turn into yet another focus point for conservatives trying to unite behind him. Trump was found guilty on all 34 felony counts; he attributed this outcome to a “rigged” trial, which seemed to affect voters as well, since his campaign website crashed as supporters flocked to donate to him right away. Furthermore, a number of wealthy contributors disclosed making six-figure contributions to the political action committees of President Trump. Generally speaking, President Biden held back from weighing in, publishing his own fundraising drive and informing supporters that “the only way to beat Donald Trump is at the ballot box.”

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