The Trump campaign’s lawsuit against The New York Times for libel over an opinion piece on Russia that it ran in 2019 ups the ante in the president’s ongoing efforts to target the media, PEN America said today. The following statement is attributable to PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel:

“President Trump’s quest for re-election is being waged through a campaign to intimidate, discredit, and silence critics. As president, he has violated the First Amendment through a pattern of relying on the powers of the federal government to exact reprisals against individual journalists and media outlets. He has also engaged personal attorneys to do his bidding, threatening authors and publishers of critical books. Now he is using his re-election campaign to sue The New York Times for libel based on an opinion piece. PEN America has sued Donald Trump for his retaliation against the media, and we will continue to defend press freedom from unconstitutional encroachments, even and especially when they come from the most powerful person in the land and no matter what proxies carry out his censorious intent.”

Courts around the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have previously ruled that the First Amendment protects news outlets in defamation and libel lawsuits. Read The New York Times‘ response to news of Trump’s lawsuit here. PEN America has repeatedly stood against the Trump administration in its attempt to silence writers and reporters, most notably in a lawsuit filed in 2018.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, sfee@pen.org, +1 202 309 8892