Trump Lawyer Sends Demand Letter Threatening to Sue Pulitzer Prize Board if They Refuse to Rescind 2018 WaPo and NYT Awards for Russiagate Reporting

Law & Crime report

An attorney representing former president Donald Trump threatened to sue the board of The Pulitzer Prizes over a former board’s decision to award two legacy media outlets top honors in 2018 for Russiagate reporting.

In 2018, the staffs of The Washington Post and The New York Times were co-granted the award for National Reporting.

The organization describes the reasoning:

For 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. (The New York Times entry, submitted in this category, was moved into contention by the Board and then jointly awarded the Prize.)

How We Got Here

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and his long-awaited report did not allege or establish that there was a grand conspiracy between the 45th president’s campaign and the Russian Federation. From the Mueller Report:

As set forth in detail in this report, the Special Counsel’s investigation established that Russia interfere in the 2016 presidential election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents. The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

The Mueller Report did “uncover[] evidence of numerous links (i.e., contacts) between Trump Campaign officials and individuals having or claiming to have ties to the Russian government.”

Then there is the matter of the Steele Dossier, a since-discredited opposition research document prepared by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele and the firm Fusion GPS. The firm was initially funded at the behest of Trump’s GOP rivals and then funded by the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Among the Steele Dossier’s unverified claims that contributed to the narrative that Trump was a Russian asset was the infamous allegation of a “pee tape,” in which the former president was purportedly keen on “employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ show in front of him” on a bed the Obamas once slept on in Moscow.

In the aftermath of the scandal widely known as Russiagate, special counsel John Durham, tasked with investigating the origins of the Russia investigation, has, so far, indicted three individuals for: admittedly altering an email which was used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application to surveil then-Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor Carter Pageallegedly lying to the FBI about their clients when promoting Trump-Russia connections; and for allegedly lying to the FBI about sourcing and claims made in the tawdry dossier.

The latest indictment referenced the origins of the “pee tape” narrative.

Igor Danchenko, an analyst who worked on the Steele Dossier, was charged with lying to FBI agents multiple times about where he got the information that he provided to Steele.

Trump Lawyer Sends Demand Letter Threatening to Sue Pulitzer Prize Board if They Refuse to Rescind 2018 WaPo and NYT Awards for Russiagate Reporting