Marvel's Ike Perlmutter Pushed in Court for Documents About Trump Lobbying

Perlmutter, a longtime Trump friend, communicated with the president's former fixer, Michael Cohen, and is alleged to have lobbied law enforcement to act against his adversary in a civil suit.
Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images
From left: Reince Priebus, Ike Perlmutter and Donald Trump

In the midst of a nasty lawsuit, Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter is now facing a demand that he hand over his communications with the Trump administration and one-time "fixer" Michael Cohen. The bid to force Perlmutter, a longtime Trump friend and Mar-a-Lago member, to produce documents reflecting the lobbying of government officials comes from a Toronto businessman being represented by attorney Marc Kasowitz, who in separate matters also represents none other than Donald Trump himself.

The lawsuit is a complicated dispute that started with a fight over tennis courts in a swanky Palm Beach residential community. Harold Peerenboom, founder of the multinational executive search firm Mandrake Management, alleges that Perlmutter is responsible for a series of anonymous mailings that tarnished his reputation. Perlmutter is countersuing Peerenboom over a plot to surreptitiously gather his DNA for the purposes of proving his foe committed defamation.

In the five years since this matter landed in a Florida state court, the dispute has grown more contentious and increasingly bizarre. Apparently, Perlmutter agrees. According to new court documents, the chairman of Disney-owned Marvel was asked during a deposition about what he said to Trump about Kasowitz. "We have a crazy case in Florida," responded Perlmutter, 76, who has donated money to Trump's now-defunct charitable foundation and has reportedly served as an informal advisor to Trump on veterans affairs issues.

In May 2017, the litigation took a big turn.

Perlmutter pointed at the time to how Customs and Border Protection agents in Detroit intercepted a "hate mail kit" en route from a UPS Store in Toronto to one in Florida. U.S. Homeland Security then worked with Canadian federal authorities and identified the sender as David Smith, a former employee of Mandrake. While Smith's lawyer denies his involvement, Perlmutter has theorized that it was part of an "extortion scheme."

The revelation, though, didn't cool the dispute whatsoever. A trial was scheduled for last fall, but then was pushed as both sides continue to probe.

Now, Peerenboom is hunting for any evidence of undue influence that Perlmutter has exerted on law enforcement and the Trump administration. He's also seeking communications between Perlmutter and Cohen, who pled guilty and is set to serve three years in prison for campaign finance crimes in connection with payoffs to two women who allegedly had affairs with Trump. At a deposition, Perlmutter appears to have admitted to talking to Cohen about his litigation with Peerenboom. The court documents also reference an email to Cohen on Dec. 29, 2018, which has been designated as "confidential" by Marvel.

In a motion to compel, Perlmutter is explicitly alleged to have lobbied law enforcement to act against Peerenboom.

The Marvel chairman is objecting to a demand for communications with law enforcement, government personnel, the Trump administration and the Trump campaign to the extent it seeks to invade attorney-client privilege and work product confidences.

The Kasowitz team (currently defending Trump in the defamation case from a former Apprentice contestant) tells the judge these communications are "clearly relevant" and are also seeking any gifts to law enforcement. In support of the latter demand, Peerenboom's lawyers point to how a bribery probe being conducted in New York recently revealed that a New York Police Department detective had helped Perlmutter renew a license for a gun. The cop got tickets to premieres of Marvel movies.

"The evidence has confirmed that the Perlmutters have a history of paying monies to, doing favors for, giving gifts to and promoting witnesses in this case, as well as providing similar rewards to law enforcement," states the motion to compel. "These and other payments or gifts to potential witnesses and other individuals are manifestly relevant and discoverable."

"Isaac Perlmutter never lobbied Donald Trump or Michael Cohen related to this lawsuit," says Roy Black, responding to a Hollywood Reporter request for comment. "I find it hilarious that Kasowitz accuses us of lobbying Trump, given that he is Trump's longtime personal lawyer who worked with Mr. Cohen. This claim is not only false but illogical and perverse."