Trump 2020 Campaign Suit Against Washington Post Dismissed

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(Bloomberg) -- A defamation lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign against the Washington Post was dismissed by a federal judge.

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US District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington ruled Friday that the campaign failed to meet the legal standards for defamation claims over the two articles at issue in the March 2020 suit. One was about the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the other was about Trump’s 2020 campaign strategy.

Contreras said the campaign failed to show the writer of the Mueller piece acted with “actual malice.” General allegations of political bias weren’t enough, and there wasn’t evidence the writer knowingly or recklessly published false information, the judge wrote.

The second article was an opinion piece protected by the First Amendment, Contreras found.

Trump’s lawyers at the Dhillon Law Group didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

“We stand by our work and are pleased with the outcome of the ruling,” Post spokesperson Shani George said in an email.

The Trump campaign filed several lawsuits against media outlets in 2020; judges in New York and Georgia previously tossed out cases against the New York Times and CNN, respectively. The former president himself has a separate, more recent defamation case against CNN pending. He also earlier this week filed a lawsuit against veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, but that was a copyright rather than defamation suit.

Lawyers argued the Post case in December 2020 but it sat largely dormant for the next two years. Contreras explained that the delay was due to the elevation of two judges to which the case had been previously assigned: Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and US Circuit Judge Florence Pan.

Contreras gave the campaign the option of trying to come back with a revised complaint against the Post within 30 days.

The case is Donald J. Trump for President Inc. v. WP Company LLC, 1:20-cv-00626, US District Court, District of Columbia.

(Updates with comment from Washington Post.)

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