It was three years ago next week when The New York Times published one of the most devastating reports I've ever seen. In the first real breakthrough on understanding Donald Trump's controversial finances, the newspaper exposed evidence of "dubious tax schemes" and "outright fraud" that the Republican exploited to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from his father.
The findings painted a picture in which the then-president, far from the self-made man he pretends to be, relied heavily on legally dubious family handouts. As regular readers may recall, it was the first of three brutal reports on Trump's financial history, leaving little doubt that he's spent much of his adult life meandering between failures and fraudulent endeavors.
It's an open question as to whether the revelations from three years ago affected the former president's political standing — many of Trump's loyal followers still refuse to recognize the evidence that he's a con man — but we were reminded last night that the Republican is still outraged that the Times and its source exposed him as a fraud. NBC News reported overnight:
Former President Donald Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday against his niece, Mary Trump, and the New York Times, claiming they conspired to obtain his tax returns for the paper's Pulitzer-winning story on his undisclosed finances. The lawsuit asserts that Mary Trump and three New York Times reporters — Susanne Craig, David Barstow, and Russell Buettner — were engaged in what the suit calls an "insidious plot" and an "extensive crusade" to obtain Trump's taxes.
The Times issued a statement last night, explaining that it will fight the lawsuit. "The Times's coverage of Donald Trump's taxes helped inform the public through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest," the statement read. "This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it."
Mary Trump had a similar reaction, though her phrasing was a bit more pointed. "I think he is a f------- loser," she told The Daily Beast, in reference to her uncle.
In a statement Mary Trump added, "[The lawsuit is] desperation. The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that he thinks will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he'll try and change the subject."
As for the underlying legal claim — the former president believes his niece breached a confidentiality agreement when she exposed the truth — there are legal experts who can speak to this with more authority than I can.
That said, on last night's show, Rachel asked Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney, about the case's legal prospects. "Good luck," Vance responded, expressing skepticism.