Michael Wolff's Publisher Calls Trump's Threat "Flagrantly Unconstitutional"

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Michael Wolff

Macmillan CEO John Sargent, in a memo, called for the president to abide by the First Amendment.

In a memo to his employees on Monday morning, Macmillan CEO John Sargent strongly supported the company's decision to publish Michael Wolff's tell-all book, Fire and Fury, and criticized President Trump for trying to stop publication.

Macmillan imprint Henry Holt planned to publish the book on Jan. 9 but moved up publication to Jan. 5 following intense interest in the book, which has been flying off shelves. On Jan. 4, Trump's personal attorney, Charles Harder, sent Wolff and Henry Holt a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that the book not be published.

"The president is free to call news 'fake' and to blast the media," Sargent wrote in his memo. "That goes against convention, but it is not unconstitutional. But a demand to cease and desist publication — a clear effort by the president of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government — is an attempt to achieve what is called prior restraint. That is something that no American court would order as it is flagrantly unconstitutional."

Sargent said the company would send Trump's attorney a "legal response" later on Monday.

"We cannot stand silent," he wrote in closing the memo. "We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court. We need to respond strongly for Michael Wolff and his book, but also for all authors and all their books, now and in the future. And as citizens we must demand that President Trump understand and abide by the First Amendment."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used two press briefings last week to hammer the book, which she likened to tabloid gossip. Asked directly by a reporter on Jan. 4 if the president would go to court over the book's publication, she directed the questioner to the president's personal legal team.

Some in conservative media have openly questioned the strategy behind initiating legal action against the book, arguing that it only served as added publicity.

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