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Trump pays $392k in legal fees to New York Times after failed lawsuit over disclosure of his tax documents

By Jon Passantino, CNN

(CNN) — Donald Trump has paid $392,000 to The New York Times to cover the legal costs from his failed lawsuit against the newspaper and its journalists over a 2018 investigation into his finances that included confidential tax records, a spokesman for the Times told CNN on Monday.

Trump was ordered to pay the money in January, more than eight months after Judge Robert R. Reed granted the Times’ motion to dismiss the case against it and its journalists, concluding the journalists’ conduct was protected by the New York Constitution.

Among the claims that Trump brought against the Times was the accusation that the journalists were liable for “tortious interference” in how they allegedly sought out his niece and caused her to allegedly breach a 2001 settlement contract with the Trump family, CNN previously reported.

The reporting series, authored by David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, went on to win the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting.

Last year, the judge said he was dismissing the claim against the Times “because The Times’ purpose in reporting on a story of a high public interest constitutes justification as a matter of law.”

The judge pointed to recent amendments made to New York’s so-called anti-SLAPP law — which provides a mechanism for defendants to seek quick dismissal of lawsuits that target conduct protected by the First Amendment — in explaining why he was ordering the dismissal of the defendants and the payment of their attorneys’ fees.

A spokesman for the Times on Monday called the anti-SLAPP statute a “powerful force for protecting press freedom.”

“This decision shows that the state’s newly amended anti-SLAPP statute can be a powerful force for protecting press freedom,” Times spokesman Charlie Stadtlander said in a statement. “The court has sent a message to those who want to misuse the judicial system to try to silence journalists.”

CNN has reached out to representatives for Trump for comment.

– CNN’s Rob Frehse contributed to this article.

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