Former President Donald Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday against his niece, Mary Trump, and the New York Times, claiming they conspired to obtain his tax returns for the paper’s Pulitzer-winning story on his undisclosed finances. The suit claims that Mary Trump and three New York Times journalists — Susanne Craig and David Barstow — engaged in an “insidious plan” and a “extensive crusade to obtain Trump’s tax returns. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants plotted to steal confidential and sensitive records, which they used for their own gain and as a way of falsely legitimizing publicized works.

Craig, Barstow and Buettner received a Pulitzer Prize in 2019 for explanatory reporting for their series of stories, which provided the public with an unprecedented look at the former president’s finances.

Mary Trump has said she released Trump’s tax returns to The New York Times in her best-selling 2020 book about her uncle, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” and in media interviews, which the lawsuit notes. In the book, the daughter of Trump’s brother, Fred Jr., paints an “authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him. Mary Trump said that her uncle was desperate in a statement.

” I think he’s a loser and will do anything to get rid of the wall. It’s desperation. She said that the walls are closing in on him and he is trying to throw anything against them that he believes will stick.” “As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”

Mary Trump appears on The Rachel Maddow Show on July 16, 2020. MSNBC

The New York Times said in a statement it plans to challenge the lawsuit. A spokesperson for the newspaper, Danielle Rhoades Ha said that Donald Trump’s tax coverage helped citizens by providing detailed reporting on a topic of overriding public interests. “This lawsuit is an attempt at silence independent news organizations, and we plan to vigorously defend it ” The suit was filed in New York State Court in Dutchess County. This is where Robert Trump’s lawyers filed a failed claim to block publication of Mary Trump’s book.

The 27-page suit alleges the reporter “relentlessly sought out his niece… and convinced her to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office and turn them over to The Times.”

It added, “Craig, aware that the documents had been derived from the litigation proceedings of the Estate Actions, directed Mary Trump to retrieve the documents from the office of her prior attorney for the Estate Actions, Farrell Fritz, and to ‘smuggle’ them out.”

The suit claims Mary Trump violated a confidentiality agreement that barred her from publicly releasing details of the family’s finances under the terms of the settlement of Fred Trump Sr.’s estate.

The suit claims his niece and the reporters were “motivated by a personal vendetta and their desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall” and to “advance their political agenda.”

Image: Dartunorro ClarkDartunorro Clark

Dartunorro Clark covers politics, including the Covid-19 recovery, for NBC News.

Tom Winter

Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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