Trump's libel lawsuit against the NYT is a loser any way you look at it

The defamation claim is patently meritless. As a matter of law, opinion cannot be defamation, period. And Frankel’s essay was an opinion piece: It was expressly written as the author’s opinion and published in the opinion section of the paper. Drawing on reported news and mostly undisputed facts, Frankel argued that there must have been “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime during the 2016 election. The piece focused on the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, in which the top tier of the Trump campaign knowingly welcomed Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer connected to the Russian regime, who had promised information that would harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign…

Inevitably, the New York state court will throw the suit out. At that point, the president’s opponents will spin the ruling as the work of a judge who surely concluded there was merit in Frankel’s collusion claims. How does that help the president and his campaign? It doesn’t, nor does it hurt his opposition. To the contrary, besides having plenty of resources to fight the suit, the Times will be delighted at the publicity — and the opportunity to remind its readers and followers about the Trump Tower meeting — that it creates.

None of this makes sense. The president has the Mueller report. He has its ultimate conclusion that there was no criminal conspiracy. He has a good argument that the whole escapade was a politically motivated farce, spearheaded by the senescent Mueller and a cabal of partisan Democratic prosecutors, who knew they had no case yet spent two futile years trying to nail him. If the Trump Tower meeting comes up, the president can deflect it by countering that it doesn’t hold a candle to reliance by the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration on a foreign spy and his Russian sources to fabricate a narrative that Trump was a traitorous national-security threat. The lawsuit does not help the president make these points; it is counterproductive.