Donald Trump Says He's Going To Sue The Pulitzer Committee If They Don't Take Away The NY Times And WaPo Pulitzers
from the dude,-come-on dept
Former President Donald Trump really has perfected every little thing he doesn’t like being a grievance that he thinks he can sue over. It’s funny because the Republican Party used to insist that “the left” was the party of victimhood, and yet in Trumpist world, they’re always victims all the time, and always have to whine about how victimized they are. The latest is that Trump is literally threatening to sue the Pulitzer Prize Committee if they refuse to retract the 2018 prize that was given to the NY Times and the Washington Post for reporting on Russia’s attempted interference with the 2016 Presidential campaign.
In a letter sent to the Pulitzer Committee, Trump lawyer Alina Habba has some, well, bizarre theories about basically everything.
… it is hereby demanded that the Pulitzer Prize Board take
immediate steps to strip the New York Times and The Washington Post of the 2018 Pulitzer
Prize for National Reporting. Pulitzer Prize Boardâ€™s failure to do so will result in prompt legal
action being taken against it. Please be guided accordingly.
What is the basis for this? Well, Trump is massively exaggerating the recent indictments of Michael Sussmann and Igor Danchenko by a grand jury working with Special Counsel John Durham. Sussmann was indicted for lying to the FBI regarding who he was representing when he spoke with the FBI about concerns associated with what was in the Steele dossier. The Danchenko indictment is moderately more damning in suggesting that he provided sketchy information that ended up in the Steele dossier, but that’s got little to do with what the Pulitzer Prize was about.
While it’s now fairly clear that parts of the Steele dossier were highly questionable (which was pretty much known from the beginning given the nature of how it was put together), Trumpworld has run ragged in arguing that this means anything at all about Russia’s attempted interference is now disproved.
Except, that’s not at all true, and Sussmann’s indictment isn’t even about any of that. The charges for Sussman are entirely related to whether or not he lied to the FBI in a single conversation, not about the dossier, but about who he represented. The charges against Danchencko are also about lying to the FBI, but regarding how he obtained certain information that was eventually passed on to Steele and ended up in the dossier.
But, in Trumpworld, these indictments are being used to claim that anything about “Russia” and the “2016 election” are completely disproved, despite that not being the case at all.
As highlighted in President Trumpâ€™s letter, it has
recently become apparent that the subject articles were based on incontrovertibly false information
provided by dubious sources who were maliciously attempting to mislead the public and tarnish
our clientâ€™s reputation.
These sources are now facing criminal charges for their illicit conduct. On September 16,
2021, attorney Michael Sussman was charged with providing false statements to the FBI when he
reported potential incidents of cooperation between our client and Russia. It has now been revealed
that he was acting at the behest of the Clinton Campaign and that the accusations made by him
were entirely fabricated.
Thereafter, on November 3, 2021, another analyst associated with the Clinton Campaign,
Igor Danchenko, was charged with making false statements to the FBI. Specifically, it is alleged
that Mr. Danchenko, who has been identified as a key contributor to the widely debunked â€œSteele
Dossier,â€ lied to the FBI when he denied colluding with the Clinton Campaign in providing his
contributions to same.
Despite these revelations, the Pulitzer Prize Board has failed to take any action to correct,
retract, or otherwise repudiate the false reporting contained in the subject articles.
Except, as Liz Dye at Above The Law notes, the vast majority of the reporting that resulted in the Pulitzer Prize had nothing to do with the dossier.
Never mind that the prize encompassed a full year of coverage, including stories about Russiaâ€™s social media influence operation and coordination with Wikileaks, Don Jr.â€™s cack-handed effort to get dirt from a Russian spy â€” â€œIf itâ€™s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.â€ â€” Michael Flynnâ€™s promise to the Russian ambassador to ditch sanctions once Trump got elected, and FBI Director James Comeyâ€™s dismissal. None of which has been disproven.
In fact, only one of the stories for which the prize was awarded had the dossier as its main focus. It referred to the document as â€œcontroversialâ€ and acknowledged that the FBI might have paid investigator Chris Steele.
And, even if that wasn’t true and the reporting was about the dossier, there’s nothing that the committee did that gives a cause of action to Donald Trump. The Pulitzer Prize is, inherently, a subjective opinion of the committee. And that’s the committee’s own protected speech. The letter claims that the committee awarded the prize “erroneously” to the Times and the Post, but that’s not his call, nor is it a legal issue. If the Pulitzers want to give an award to terrible reporting, that’s it’s fundamentally protected 1st Amendment right.
In short, Trump is saying that the Pulitzer Prize committee is not allowed to express an opinion, and such a threat is fundamentally both petty and censorial. What a sad little man, threatening bogus censorial lawsuits over petty little grievances based on someone’s opinion he doesn’t like.