Former President Donald Trump has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Pulitzer Prize board for jointly awarding the New York Times and Washington Post the 2018 National Reporting prize over their coverage of the Russian collusion scandal.

Trump’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Okeechobee County, Florida, claims that the “demonstrably false connection was and remains the stated basis” for the papers’ award-winning coverage, Fox News reported.

“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 complaint states. “Remarkably, they were rewarded for lying to the American public.” 

The Washington Post and the Times received the award for their “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration,” according to the Pulitzer website. 

Donald Trump
Trump had asked the Pulitzer board to rescind the prize, but they refused.

The coverage sparked a lengthy investigation led by former special counsel Robert Mueller that ultimately failed to find enough evidence to indict Trump’s campaign team for colluding with Russia to sway the 2016 election.

The complaint said Mueller’s failure to find any evidence of collusion and the Department of Justice’s report that found wrongdoing among federal officials investigating the alleged Russian collusion prove that the stories are not award-winning, according to Fox.

The lawsuit also claims that the actions of those involved in the discredited “Steele dossier,” — including former Hillary Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann who was accused of lying to federal investigators about Trump’s ties to a Russian bank — also demonstrate the coverage is not worthy of an award.

“While elements at both the Times and the Post were almost certainly complicit in the Russia Collusion Hoax, is ultimately immaterial whether the authors of the Awarded Articles understood at the time they were propagating political disinformation manufactured by paid sources in an attempt mislead the public and tarnish President Trump’s reputation and political prospects,” the complaint said. 

Donald Trump
Trump is requesting damages to be determined at trial.

“What matters instead is the Defendants’ conduct, particularly when many of the key assertions and premises of the Russia Collusion Hoax that permeated the Awarded Articles had been revealed by the Mueller Report and congressional investigations as false after the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting had been awarded,” the complaint continued. 

Trump’s lawyers pointed out that the Washington Post has since retracted some of its articles about the Steele dossier, but noted the “retracted articles, which also advanced the Russia Collusion Hoax narrative, were conveniently omitted from the specific articles submitted by the Post for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize.” 

In July, the Pulitzer board rejected Trump’s call to rescind the awards and his demand for “a full and fair correction, apology, or retraction” of the stories.

The board said it conducted two independent reviews of the coverage after receiving multiple inquiries from other parties besides Trump.

“The separate reviews converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes,” the Board wrote in a statement.

Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer board defended its decision not to rescind the joint award from the two newspapers.

The complaint alleges that the board’s statement was issued “knowledge or reckless disregard for its falsity,” and accused board members of knowing “that the Russia Collusion Hoax had been thoroughly discredited numerous times by exhaustive, credible, official investigations, contradicting the ‘deeply sourced, relentlessly reported’” articles. 

“The Pulitzer Statement was knowingly published by Defendants to create a false implication in the mind of the reader that ‘the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration’ was connected with Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Trump’s lawyers said.

Trump is requesting damages “in an amount to be proven at trial,” according to the news outlet. He has threatened to sue the organization in the past.


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