Lawyers for US President Donald Trump [official profile] on Thursday issued a cease and desist letter [text, PDF] seeking to prevent publication of a forthcoming book critical of his campaign and first year in office.
The letter alleges that author Michael Wolff [bio] and his publisher, Henry Holt & Co. [official website], have exposed themselves to civil liability for “defamation by libel, defamation by libel per se, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with contractual relations, and inducement of breach of contract” through the publication of Wolff’s forthcoming Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House [official materials].
Lawyers for Trump contend that statements made in the book meet the “actual malice” standard, first announced by the US Supreme Court [official website] in New York Times v. Sullivan [Oyez materials] for assessing defamation claims related to the conduct of public officials:
Actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements. Moreover, the Book appears to cite to no sources for many of its most damaging statements about Mr. Trump. Also, many of your so-called “sources” have stated publicly that they never spoke to Mr. Wolff and/or never made the statements that are being attributed to them. Other alleged “sources” of statements about Mr. Trump are believed to have no personal knowledge of the facts upon which they are making statements or are known to be unreliable and/or strongly biased against Mr. Trump, or there are other obvious reasons to question their reliability, accuracy or claims to have knowledge of alleged facts upon which they are purporting to make statements.
They further allege that former Trump advisor Steven K. Bannon is subject to a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits him from, among other things, disclosing confidential information about Trump; communicating with the media about Trump, his businesses or his campaign; and disparaging Trump or his family members. The letter asserts that Wolff and Holt’s publication of the book would give “rise to claims of tortious interference with the Agreement, and inducement of Mr. Bannon to breach of the Agreement, among other claims.”
Trump’s team is demanding that Wolff and Holt “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the Book, the Article, or any excerpts or summaries of either of them, to any person or entity, and that you issue a full and complete retraction and apology to my client as to all statements made about him in the Book and Article that lack competent evidentiary support.”
The letter comes a day after an excerpt [text] of the book containing a less-than-flattering portrayal of Trump’s campaign and ascension to the White House was published by New York Magazine [media website].
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