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Trump reportedly files foolish suit against Pulitzer Prize Board

Donald Trump has filed plenty of foolish lawsuits. His apparent case against the Pulitzer Prize Board might very well be the worst.


It was in May when Donald Trump first broached the subject of a possible lawsuit against the Pulitzer Prize board. In October, the former president headlined a rally in Texas and added some specificity to his whining.

“Within the next two weeks, we’re suing the Pulitzer organization to have those prizes taken back,” the Republican declared.

I more or less assumed that the rhetoric was meaningless posturing, in part because his references to “two weeks” are usually meaningless, and in part because the underlying idea is so terribly odd.

And yet, according to Fox News, Trump has apparently followed through on his threat.

Former President Trump filed a defamation lawsuit on Tuesday against the Pulitzer Prize Board over the 2018 National Reporting prizes given to The New York Times and Washington Post for coverage of “now-debunked theory” of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump’s suit, filed Tuesday in Okeechobee County, Florida, was obtained by Fox News Digital. It states that a “demonstrably false connection was and remains the stated basis” for the coverage that received the prestigious award.

It’s worth emphasizing that neither MSNBC nor NBC News has yet confirmed the existence of this litigation, though Trump promoted the Fox News report by way of his social media platform, which he probably wouldn’t have done if it were baseless.

Let’s make this plain at the outset: If Trump actually filed a defamation lawsuit against the Pulitzer Prize Board, it will rank among the most ridiculous lawsuits he’s ever filed, and he’s filed some doozies.

Let’s recap how we arrived at this point.

Four years ago, The New York Times and The Washington Post received Pulitzers for the newspapers’ coverage of the Russia scandal, and by any fair standard, the honors were well deserved. Trump, of course, didn’t quite see it that way.

In fact, the more the former president convinced himself that the Russia scandal wasn’t real, the more preoccupied he became with the journalistic awards. The Republican even pressed the Pulitzer Prize board to reverse course and strip the newspapers of the honor, since, as far as Trump was concerned, the awards were in recognition of reporting on a scandal that had been discredited.

In an exceedingly generous move, the Pulitzer board took Trump’s appeals seriously and launched independent reviews of the newspapers’ reporting. Predictably, they found that the Times and the Post were right, and none of the reporting had been “discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes.”

Given the circumstances, it seemed unnecessary for the Pulitzer board to indulge Trump’s absurd tantrum, and conduct thorough reviews, but board members re-scrutinized the matter anyway.

Indeed, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that the Pulitzer board appears to have taken Trump’s claims far more seriously than Trump ever did. The former president ignored the facts and dismissed the scandal because it suited his political purposes. It was a mindless, knee-jerk reaction to facts that upset him. Trump didn’t make a serious appeal based on extensive research and credible evidence; he made an appeal because reality hurt his feelings. The Pulitzer board nevertheless concluded that the facts remained unchanged.

And so the former president now appears to be taking the matter to court. The Republican isn’t suing the newspapers whose accurate articles he did not like, but rather, he’s reportedly suing the Pulitzer board for disagreeing with him about accurate articles he did not like.

“A large swath of Americans had a tremendous misunderstanding of the truth at the time the Times’ and the Post’s propagation of the Russia Collusion Hoax dominated the media,” the legal complaint apparently states. “Remarkably, they were rewarded for lying to the American public.”

Even if we put aside the obvious fact that it doesn’t make sense for Trump to sue the Pulitzer board because he disapproved of others’ reporting, the fact remains that the Russia scandal was and is entirely real. Let’s once again review five core truths about the Russia scandal.

Russia attacked the American elections in 2016

Every U.S. intelligence agency and lawmakers from both parties have long agreed that the Kremlin launched an expansive and expensive covert military intelligence operation that targeted the U.S. political system in 2016. This basic fact is no longer contested — except by Trump, who publicly declared that he found Vladimir Putin more reliable than his own administration’s officials — and its importance is too often overlooked.

Russia’s goal was to put Trump in power

The Kremlin’s operation was not politically neutral: Moscow attacked our elections in the hopes of helping dictate the outcome. According to the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies, the Mueller investigation, and the multi-step investigation from the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee, Russia saw Trump as a prospective ally and believed it would be in its interests if the Republican were in the White House.

Russia and Team Trump were political allies

As regular readers know, investigations from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee documented the extent to which Trump and his team welcomed, received, and benefited from Russian campaign assistance. (They also obstructed the investigation into this assistance — by some measures, 10 times.)

The evidence also showed there was coordination and high-level connections between Trump’s political operation and those responsible for the attack on our elections. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report at one point literally described a “direct tie between senior Trump Campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services.”

Team Trump lied about its communications with Russia

No, really, Team Trump lied about its communications with Russia. A lot. Out loud and on record. Over and over again, Trump and his spokespersons insisted there were absolutely no interactions between the Republican, his political operation, and their Russian benefactors. We now know definitively that they were lying — though they still haven’t been forthcoming about why.

The Russia scandal led to a series of felony convictions and prison sentences

For an alleged “hoax,” the Russia scandal led to an amazing number of federal prosecutions. In fact, the investigation led to the convictions of, among others, Trump’s White House national security advisor, campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, foreign policy advisor, personal lawyer, and to the indictment of 13 Russian nationals who interfered in our elections as part of the larger plot.

I realize, of course, that there are all kinds of contentious details and personalities related to the controversy, which are still being debated as part of the broader conversation about the story.

But these five truths are largely uncontested, and have been bolstered, not only by U.S. intelligence agencies, but also by the Mueller probe and the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings. Russia attacked our elections to help Trump. The Republican’s political operation welcomed, received, benefited from, and lied about Russian campaign assistance. Many key players from Trump’s inner circle were charged, prosecuted, and convicted.

These aren’t opinions. They’re conclusions drawn from multiple, bipartisan investigations, conducted across several years.

The only “hoax” here is the one being perpetrated by those pretending the Russia scandal wasn’t real.

Trump’s lawyers were recently sanctioned for having filed a frivolous lawsuit as part of political stunt. No one should be surprised if that happens again in response to this litigation.