Why Trump’s threat to sue the New York Times for libel will not succeed.
Last Thursday, following publication of a New York Times story describing Donald Trump’s unwanted sexual touching of two women, Trump and his lawyers threatened to sue the Times for libel. In a letter to Trump’s attorney, the Times defended the story as “newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern” and told Trump that if he did not agree, it would be happy to meet him in court.
Legal experts agree that there is no merit to Trump’s threatened lawsuit. Trump could never win a libel suit against the Times. He would lose not only because he would have a difficult time proving that the allegations were false, but also because he has no chance of showing “actual malice”—that the Times published the statements with “reckless disregard” of the truth. To show reckless disregard, Trump would have to prove that the Times knew or had strong reason to believe the story was false and published it anyway.