Attorneys for Trump 2020 say the Washington Post misrepresented the Mueller report, making it appear as if the president has invited more election interference.
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is suing The Washington Post for libel, claiming the paper defamed the commander-in-chief with two opinion pieces published last June.
National Public Radio reports that both articles suggested Trump may have invited Russia’s assistance or interference in the 2016 presidential elections. Similar to another lawsuit filed against The New York Times, Trump campaign attorneys claim the Post was hoping to malign the president prior to the release of the Mueller report.
Representing Trump’s team is attorney Charles Harder.
Harder, says NPR, is well-known for tackling large media outlets. He helped drive Gawker out of business and has also helped First Lady Melania Trump secure defamation settlements against the Daily Mail and a Maryland-based blogger.
Harder has also threatened litigation against major news networks, including NPR.
The New York Times notes that the Post’s allegedly defamatory pieces were written by Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman. Both cited comments Trump made to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in which the president appeared to defend the idea of accepting damaging information about political rivals from foreign governments.
Sargent, for instance, suggested in a June 13 opinion article that the Mueller report “concluded that Trump and/or his campaign eagerly encouraged, tried to conspire with, and happily profited off” Russian election interference.
Exactly one week later, Waldman proposed that several governments ordinarily antagonistic to the United States—including North Korea and Russia—might “aid” the Trump campaign, following the president’s supposed “invitation” for them to do so.
The lawsuit, though, says that, by publishing Sargent and Waldman’s opinions, the Trump administration made “false and defamatory statements” against the commander-in-chief.
“There has never been any statement by anyone associated with the campaign or the administration ‘inviting’ Russia or North Korea to assist the campaign in 2019 or beyond,” the lawsuit states. “There also has never been any reporting that the campaign has ever had any contact with North Korea relating to any United States election.”
The complaint, adds NPR, maintains that the Mueller report never explicitly accused President Trump of colluding with Russia. The lawsuit observes that Mueller “concluded there was no conspiracy between the  Campaign and the Russian government, and no United States person intentionally coordinated with Russia’s efforts.”
Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., a Gibson Dunn attorney who’s worked on high-profile media cases, told the New York Times that the latest lawsuit “flies in the face of basic First Amendment doctrine.”
“The complaint is attacking opinions where the authors are expressing their views based on widely reported facts,” Boutrous said. “It’s all part of the overarching war on the press.”