WASHINGTON – An attorney for US President Donald Trump demanded on Thursday that an author immediately cancel plans to publish a tell-all book that, among other things, states that the real-estate tycoon never wanted to win the White House.
Charles Harder sent a cease-and-desist notice to journalist Michael Wolff, author of a forthcoming book titled “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which is due to be released next week.
The letter demands that Wolff and the book’s publisher “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book,” excerpts of which have been published in outlets including New York Magazine.
The book states that Trump’s goal in the general election campaign was not to defeat Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton but only to strengthen his real-estate brand.
“We are investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Trump” in the upcoming book, Harder says in the letter to Wolff.
He adds that the author’s publication of false or baseless statements about Trump gives rise to claims including invasion of privacy and defamation by libel.
Harder says furthermore that “actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements” and “appears to cite to (sic) no sources for many of its most damaging statements about Mr. Trump.”
The book also quotes a former top adviser to Trump during the campaign and in the White House, Steve Bannon, as saying that a June 2016 meeting in which several of the then-candidate’s top campaign officials sat down with a group of Russians – apparently in hopes of obtaining damaging information on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton – was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
In that gathering at Trump Tower in New York, Donald Trump, Jr.; the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, met with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others.
A special prosecutor, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, is investigating that meeting as part of his wide-ranging probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to damage Clinton’s candidacy.
Late Wednesday, Harder sent Bannon a cease-and-desist notice that warned him that legal action is imminent over information he provided to Wolff.
The attorney said in a statement that Bannon’s actions in communicating with Wolff regarding the forthcoming book gave rise to claims including “defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients (Trump and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.).”
On Wednesday, Trump accused Bannon of having “lost his mind” after he was fired from the White House staff, saying that the latter currently has “nothing to do” with him or his presidency.
The president’s statement constituted an abrupt break with Bannon, who served in the White House from January until August 2017, when he was fired in a shakeup after John Kelly was appointed chief of staff.
Bannon, who subsequently returned as executive chairman of Breitbart News, a Trump-supporting online news outlet, said Wednesday night on the radio program “Breitbart News Tonight” that his former boss is a “great man” and that he still fully supports him.
Wolff says his book is based on more than 200 interviews with the president and members of his political circle.
Separately, the White House announced Thursday that its officials would no longer be allowed to use their personal cellphones in the West Wing starting next week, citing security reasons.
The measure appears to be aimed at preventing damaging information about the Trump administration from being leaked to the media.