(The Hill) – Former President Trump sued the Pulitzer Prize board on Wednesday for defamation, arguing a statement by the group that concluded a review conducted of previous claims he’d made defamed him. Trump had threatened to file the suit for months after the board issued the allegedly defamatory statement, which announced the conclusion of two independent reviews requested by Trump and others over Pulitzers that had been awarded for stories about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The board ultimately rejected Trump’s request to revoke the 2018 national reporting awards, which were given to the staffs of The New York Times and The Washington Post, saying the reviews concluded: “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.”
Trump’s suit, which was filed in an Okeechobee County, Florida, court and reported earlier by Fox News, alleges the board acted with actual malice in issuing the statement with the aim of damaging Trump’s reputation, asking for an unspecified number of damages. Trump has long used the courts to go after his opponents and get attention for his own claims. It’s a pattern that goes back decades before his presidency.
The former president claimed the statement issued by the Pulitzer board included multiple falsities as he called the group the “establishment’s establishment.” “On the facts known to Defendants at the time these reviews were allegedly conducted, it would have been impossible that a single objective, thorough and independent review would have reached such a conclusion, much less two,” the suit states. “Defendants knew this and published the Pulitzer Statement anyway.”
The 20 winning stories chronicle attempts by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and the federal investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump has railed against the probe as a witch hunt for years, noting that some of the underlying allegations have been debunked. His complaint repeatedly attacks the winning stories as an “unprecedented media circus.” The Hill has reached out to The New York Times and The Washington Post, which are not implicated in the suit, and the Pulitzer board for comment.