The New York Times just responded to Trump’s lawsuit threat — Looks like it’s game on

Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet and the New York Times just accepted the challenge.

The publication welcomed Trump’s threat of a lawsuit on Thursday, standing by its story on accusations against the Republican presidential nominee.

Trump threatened to sue the Times if it did not retract a “reckless, defamatory” report on two women who alleged that Trump touched them inappropriately years ago.

New York Times general counsel David McCraw responded to the letter from Trump’s attorney stating the publication would not retract its story.

“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation,” he wrote.  “Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a ‘piece of ass.’ Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances.”

The letter continued: “Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”

McCraw wrote that the women in the report “spoke out on an issue of national importance,” adding that “it would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices.”

“If Mr. Trump disagrees,” he continued in the letter, ” if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

Some applauded the Times response, calling it a showdown over the First Amendment and patriotism.

“We have to be fair and even in this campaign and not basically take sides,” said Mark Halperin.

The New York Post criticized the Times for its “empty Trump exposé” and said the “self-styled paper of record will bend over backward to smear a Republican candidate.”

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