Trump has warned that he would sue news organizations on several occasions, but the lawsuit filed in New York State court marks the first time his campaign has followed through on those threats. It's also quite an escalation in hostilities toward the NYT since the White House canceled its subscription to the newspaper last year.
The lawsuit alleges that an essay titled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo” by Max Frankel, who was executive editor of the NYT from 1986 to 1994, made false statements about the campaign to "improperly influence" the upcoming election in November.
Frankel wrote that the Trump campaign and Russian officials "had an overarching deal" to undermine political rival Hillary Clinton in exchange for a "pro-Russian foreign policy."
He also wrote the Trump campaign didn't do anything illegal by discussing possible changes in U.S. policy toward Russia. The talks "were unseemly at best and clearly offensive to the American convention that we have only one president at a time," according to Frankel.
The Trump campaign faces major legal hurdles not only in refuting Frankel's opinion, but also in seeking "compensatory damages in the millions of dollars." The campaign is arguing the piece was false and defamatory, but the press has wide latitude to publish commentary about public figures — that's the essence of democracy.
If legal precedent is any guide, the case likely will be dismissed.