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President Donald Trump has reacted swiftly to the Tuesday release of a tell-all book from short-lived White House staffer and former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault-Newman. Trump’s presidential campaign not only has demanded that she submit to arbitration over a claim that she violated an agreement, but it has also threatened book publisher Simon & Schuster with its participation.
On Monday, Trump’s attorney Charles Harder sent Simon & Schuster a letter.
According to a copy obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Manigault-Newman is prohibited from disclosing confidential information about Trump, any of Trump’s family members and the Trump Organization. She also is allegedly prohibited from saving, storing or memorializing any confidential information — which could put those now infamous tapes at issue. Additionally, Manigault-Newman is said to be prohibited from disparaging Trump.
“Now that you are aware of these contractual provisions, and Ms. Manigault-Newman’s breaches thereof, the Company will have claims against you, and all persons working in concert with you, should you proceed with publishing and selling the Book,” states the letter. “Such claims would include, among others, tortious interference with the Agreement, and inducement of Ms. Manigault-Newman to breach the Agreement.”
On Wednesday, Simon & Schuster wrote back to Harder. The publisher is being represented by Elizabeth McNamara at Davis Wright Tremaine.
McNamara begins her response by saying her clients “will not be intimidated by hollow legal threats” and that the publication of Unhinged has gone forward.
“Mr. Trump is the President of the United States, with a ‘bully pulpit’ at his disposal,” she continues. “To the extent he disputes any statements in the Book, he has the largest platform in the world to challenge them. As the Supreme Court observed in New York Times v. Sullivan, ‘debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that  may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.'”
As to the legal claims, McNamara objects that Harder hasn’t identified which “disparaging statements” would really embarrass Trump and his associates and fails to specify what constitutes confidential information.
“And, as you well know, timing is central to interference or inducement claims,” she adds. “Well before your forwarding of, and my clients’ receipt of, your ‘notice,’ Ms. Manigault-Newman shared her story freely with S&S. Ms. Manigault-Newman shopped her book proposal to various publishing houses and submitted her manuscript to S&S for publication. … An after-the-fact lawyer’s letter putting my clients ‘on notice’ does not put the proverbial genie back into the bottle, much less subject S&S to liability for Ms. Manigault-Newman’s purported contractual obligations.”
Although the publisher is primarily concerned with its own liability, the response does provide what will likely be Manigault-Newman’s own to Trump’s claims.
“Put simply, the book’s purpose is to inform the public,” writes McNamara. “Private contracts like the NDA may not be used to censor former or current government officials from speaking about non-classified information learned during the course of their public employment. Nor could the NDA support censorship of a publisher, like S&S, that legitimately reports on information that is plainly newsworthy and highly relevant to matters of public concern. The government has no legitimate interest in censoring such materials and no court would support the Presidential campaign of a sitting U.S. President in silencing a former government official like Ms. Manigault-Newman or her publisher. To do so would be a perversion of contract law, a prior restraint, and a plain violation of the First Amendment.”
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