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Andrew McCarthy: Trump Shouldn’t Have Filed ‘Frivolous’ Lawsuit Against New York Times


The president really shouldn’t have sued the New York Times for defamation, according to National Review contributing editor and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Andrew McCarthy.

McCarthy said in his opening lines that Donald Trump is either “getting bad legal advice and bad political advice” or “just can’t stand prosperity or coast on good news.”

In case you missed it, the president’s campaign filed an 8-page lawsuit against the Times on Wednesday for allegedly publishing a defamatory op-ed–in which the author, Max Frankel, wrote the following:

There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.

Defamation law experts Law&Crime surveyed about the lawsuit said that while the case might drag out for a bit, it will ultimately be dismissed. Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano also said it would be dismissed.

McCarthy believes this is “frivolous” litigation that will backfire.

“Whatever the case, this is not the right time — not that there would ever be a right time — to file a frivolous libel lawsuit against the New York Times, a suit that will put him on the defensive when he should be playing election-year offense,” McCarthy wrote. “The defamation claim is patently meritless. As a matter of law, opinion cannot be defamation, period. And Frankel’s essay was an opinion piece: It was expressly written as the author’s opinion and published in the opinion section of the paper.”

McCarthy said that when–not if–the lawsuit is thrown out, Trump’s critics will only spin the development as validation of Frankel’s opinion about a quid pro quo between the “Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy.”

In closing, McCarthy said he couldn’t think of one reason this lawsuit will prove helpful to the president.

“Legally, politically, strategically, cathartically — I can’t see a single way in which the libel suit against the Times helps the president. I guess maybe things were going too well,” he wrote.

[Image via Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.