Donald Trump can’t fire the man protesting his relationship with Macy’s, but the Apprentice star might have sights on suing him.
Trump attorney Alan Garten has sent a cease and desist letter to Angelo Carusone, organizer of the online campaign Dump Trump, and threatened to seek damages of “not less than” $25 million if the protest continues, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively. Carusone tells THR he plans to continue the protest and called the threat of legal action “bullying” on Trump’s part.
In a letter dated Dec. 27, Garten charged Carusone with undertaking “malicious efforts” to interfere with Trump’s business relationships and spreading misinformation about the size and success of the protest.
“Rather than simply engage in lawful protest, you have apparently made it your mission to interfere with and intentionally disrupt Mr. Trump’s long-standing and well-established business relationship with Macy’s as well as his contractual dealings with other third parties through mob-like bullying and coercion,” reads the letter from Garten, executive vp and litigation counsel at The Trump Organization.
(The letter can be read in full here.)
Carusone launched Dump Trump in November and asked Macy’s to sever its ties with Trump, who works as a spokesman for the company and whose brand of clothes and fragrances are carried in its stores. The campaign has charged Trump with making sexist and “racially charged” comments, which Carusone says are in opposition to Macy’s family-friendly image.
Dump Trump’s actions have included commissioning mobile billboards to circle Macy’s corporate headquarters and flagship New York location late last year. In addition, a Dump Trump petition at SignOn.org has attracted more than 680,000 signatures. Garten’s letter implies Carusone’s Dump Trump associates (which include the left-leaning SignOn.org) could also face legal action.
In response to the letter, Carusone engaged legal counsel from the nonprofit Public Citizen and said he intends to continue with the campaign.
“I would hope that Macy’s would recognize now that the things we’ve been saying about Donald Trump are in fact accurate, and they are cause for concern,” Carusone tells THR. “That Trump does engage in bullying and intimidation. That his brand is inconsistent with the Macy’s brand.”
In addition to threatening to seek no less than $25 million in damages, the letter also touts the recent $5 million defamation lawsuit Trump’s Miss Universe L.P. won after former contestant Sheena Monnin said the competition was “fixed” and “trashy.”
“Your unwarranted and tortious acts are far more egregious than Ms. Monnin’s defamatory statements and, I assure you, will result in a judgment of stunning proportions if you choose to persist in your illegal behavior,” the letter reads.
Carusone’s attorney, Paul Alan Levy, cited recent protests that he said illustrate that his client’s campaign is protected under the First Amendment. (Read Levy’s response letter here.)
“From the boycott of Missouri for blocking the Equal Rights Amendment to refusing to eat at Chick-fil-A for opposing gay rights, the ability to stimulate a mass ‘vote with your wallet’ campaign has been a key weapon for activists that has long been recognized under the First Amendment,” Levy says.
Garten says he was surprised to hear Carusone was going public with the letter.
“The guy’s desperate for media attention — the guy’s a loser,” he says, adding that the protest has had no negative effect on the sales of Trump merchandise at Macy’s.
THR has reached out to Macy’s for comment.