Trump Gets Minor Legal Win In NY Appeals Court

Former President Donald Trump secured a silver lining after Thursday’s criminal conviction which will allow him to sue a niece who provided information about his tax returns to the New York Times in 2018.

Reuters reported that a New York state court of appeals ruled on the same day that the former president is within his rights to sue Mary Trump for providing personal materials about his tax returns to the mainstream outlet, which ultimately won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting. The Appellate Division in Manhattan agreed a “substantial” legal basis exists for Trump to argue that Mary Trump violated agreement bounding the documents to secrecy as part of a settlement relating to the estate of Fred Trump Sr. The decision upheld a similar one reached in 2023 by Justice Robert Reed of the state Supreme Court, though Reed previously dismissed Trump’s suits against the Times reporters and ordered him to pay $392,639 in restitution.

Trump is expected to argue that the agreement remained in effect at the time of the leak, though the five-member appeals court said a timeline for the agreement still must be resolved. Portions of the judgment also state that President Trump may only be entitled to a sliver of the $100 million in damages he’s seeking against his niece. “At a minimum, nominal damages may still be available on the breach of contract claim even in the absence of actual damages,” the court wrote in its opinion.

Attorneys for Mary Trump condemned the decision which they said failed to account for the former president’s attempts to “chill and retaliate against” her for speaking with a media outlet in what is known as a strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP defense.

“Mary has made valuable contributions to the public’s knowledge of the former president with her unique perspective as a family member,” her lawyer Anne Champion said in a statement. “We are confident she will be vindicated as the case proceeds.” Champion added that Trump “can claim no injury for the publication of truthful information.”

Trump’s attorney Alina Habba praised the decision, saying Mary Trump will be held “fully accountable for her blatant and egregious breach of contract.”

The case against his niece may become another focal point for conservatives seeking to rally around the Republican presidential frontrunner in the hours since his verdict in the hush money trial was announced. Trump was convicted on all 34 felony counts, a decision he blamed on a “rigged” trial that was apparently felt by voters as well: his campaign site crashed following the decision as donors rushed to contribute to his campaign. In addition, several high-dollar donors announced six-figure contributions to President Trump’s political action committees. President Biden generally refrained from piling on, releasing his own pitch for donations and telling supporters “The only way to beat Donald Trump is at the ballot box.”

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