Donald Trump has reportedly paid almost $400,000 in legal fees to The New York Times after his failed lawsuits against the publication and its reporters over the release of his tax records in an article written far back in 2018.

Last month, Judge Robert R. Reed demanded the former president to settle the fees after the dismissal of his case back in May 2023. This was on the basis that the reporting had been protected by the New York Constitution.

Payment Long Overdue

“Some news: Donald Trump has paid the $392,638.69 he owed The New York Times for legal fees connected to a frivolous lawsuit he brought against the paper, two of my colleagues, and me,” Craig wrote in an X post on Monday. A spokesman for the Times later confirmed to CNN that the payment had been made.

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In 2021, Trump filed a lawsuit against the Times alleging that the publication and its reporters had hatched an “insidious plot” with his niece, Mary Trump to get hold of his tax records. The documents they got during the process informed the prize-winning series of pieces.

Self-Made Billionaire Claims Questions

It also questioned Donald Trump’s ‘self-made’ billionaire claims and accused him of being guilty of “outright fraud.” The investigation by the New York Times found that Mr. Trump was involved in dubious tax schemes in the 1990s. They included instances of outright fraud that strongly increased the wealth he received from his parents.

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Mr. Trump won the presidency with claims of being “a self-made billionaire”. He also insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, contributed almost nothing to his wealth.

Trump’s Tax-Dodging Tactics

But during the investigation, The Times discovered through confidential tax returns and financial records that Mr. Trump received today’s equivalent of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. It started right from when he was a toddler and continued right up to the time the case was disclosed.

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Mr. Trump got the bulk of this cash by helping his parents dodge taxes. Records and interviews proved that he and his siblings set up a fake company to hide millions of dollars in gifts from their parents.

Trump’s Tax Maneuvers Cut Billions From IRS

Mr. Trump also helped his father take tax deductions worth millions more than allowed. He also helped devise a means to reduce the value of his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns. This sharply reduced the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

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The IRS did nothing to stop these actions. He and his siblings received over a billion dollars from their parents, Fred and Mary Trump.

Tax Bills Slashed

This should have led to a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55% tax rate that was imposed on gifts and inheritances. However, the Trumps paid only a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records showed. The findings were obtained from interviews with Fred Trump’s former employees and advisers and more than 100,000 pages of documents.

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The documents revealed the inner workings and how much profit he got from his empire. They included documents from public sources like mortgages and deeds, probate records, financial disclosure reports, regulatory records, and civil court files.

Investigation’s Sources Of Information

The investigation also drew on tens of thousands of pages of confidential records like bank statements, financial audits, accounting ledgers, cash disbursement reports, invoices, and canceled checks.

Source: X/Dean Gloster

The documents also included more than 200 tax returns from Fred Trump, his companies, and various Trump partnerships and trusts.

Series’ Journalists Strike Gold

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

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In his original complaint, Trump claimed that the reporters connived with his niece to “smuggle records out of her attorney’s office” and feed them to the paper, reportedly going against a 2001 confidentiality agreement she’d signed.

Trump’s Claims Of Malice Rejected

He also claimed the journalists had been “motivated, at least in part, by their actual malice” by reporting on information within his tax records which he’d refused to give out.

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Judge Robert Reed, of the New York County Supreme Court, last year rejected Trump’s claim because the newspaper’s purpose in reporting on a story of a high public interest constitutes justification by the law.

Case Dismissed Because Of Anti-SLAPP Law

The judge referred to recent changes to New York’s anti-SLAPP law. The law allows defendants to seek quick acquittal from lawsuits targeting actions protected by the First Amendment.

Source: X/IBA’s Human Rights Institute

He cited this to explain why he declared the defendants free of all charges and ordered the payment of their attorneys’ fees.

Protecting Press Freedom

Judge Reed wrote that the revised anti-SLAPP law was designed to settle lawsuits like this. He added that “among other reasons, plaintiffs’ history of litigation that some observers have described as abusive and frivolous inspired the expansion of the law.”

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Times spokesman, Charlies Stadtlander said in a statement, “This decision shows that the state’s newly amended anti-SLAPP statute can be a powerful force for protecting press freedom.” She added that through this the court has passed a message to anyone who wants to use the law to silence the press.

Trump’s Attorney Criticizes Reporters’ Tactics

Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba said in an interview at the time that the reporters “went well beyond the conventional news-gathering techniques permitted by the First Amendment.” She added that all journalists must be held responsible for any civil wrongs they commit.

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The payment is one of the many overall financial quagmires that Trump is currently facing relating to legal cases. On Monday, Trump officially appealed against a recent ruling that demanded he pay $464 million for bank fraud.

No End In Sight To Legal Troubles

This happened just days after his attorneys separately asked another judge to postpone the enforcement of a ruling that ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Caroll. She used him for defaming her by claiming that she was lying when she accused him of sexual assault.

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Last May, the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination was also ordered to pay Carroll $5 million in another ruling.