UPDATE: Fire and Fury will now come out tomorrow, in defiance of Trump’s lawyer. Henry Holt confirms that we received a cease and desist letter from an attorney for President Trump,” a spokesperson for Henry Holt said in a statement, according to Variety. “We see Fire and Fury as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book.” Author Michael Wolff added, “Here we go. You can buy it (and read it) tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. President.”
A lawyer for Donald Trump informed the publisher of an upcoming book about the president Thursday that they would sue if the book were released. Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House presents Trump as unstable and unfit to be president and includes quotes from the administration’s controversial former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who described a liaison between Donald Trump, Jr. and Russians during the campaign as “treasonous.” An excerpt from the book, which is slated to come out next week, recently ran in New York magazine.
The New York Times reports that attorney Charles J. Harder, who specializes in libel suits and won Hulk Hogan’s claim against Gawker Media, claimed the book was potentially libelous. “Mr. Trump hereby demands that you 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 … 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 lawyer’s 11-page letter to Wolff and publisher Henry Holt & Co. said.
Harder claimed that Wolff himself had admitted to falsehoods in the book. In an author’s note, he said that many stories “in Trumpian fashion are baldly untrue” and that it’s up to the reader to decide their veracity. In other places, Wolff said he included what he felt was the truth. Harder claims that these admissions represent actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth – hallmarks of libel cases.
The Times reported, though, that Harder did not single out any passages as untrue. And Vice reports that the letter to Wolff and his publisher requests both digital and hard copies of the books so Harder can “assess all of the statements” inside.
Although Wolff has yet to comment on the libel threat, he told the Times Wednesday that he was “wholly comfortable” with his sources. Wolff’s editor, John Sterling, said that they had not yet responded to the attorney’s letter.
In addition to Bannon’s claims about Trump, Jr. and a comment describing Ivanka Trump as “dumb as a brick,” the book contains many stories that paint the president in an unflattering light. It claims that he was uninterested when an aide attempted to explain the Constitution to him, according to the paper, and that he would not read one-page briefings. It reportedly repeats several insults from advisers and alleges that Melania Trump was so upset about the idea of moving to Washington, D.C. that she was crying when it was announced her husband had won the election. She has later issued a statement refuting that claim.
The White House has described the book as “trashy tabloid fiction” and “filled with false and misleading accounts.” On Wednesday, Trump also released a statement to address Bannon’s claims. “Stephen Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency,” he said. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” Vice reports that Trump also sent a cease and desist to Bannon for allegedly violating a non-disclosure agreement that would have prevented him from talking to Wolff.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders slams new book ‘Fire and Fury’ on Friday’s broadcast of Fox & Friends.