Simon & Schuster has hit back at legal threats from Donald Trump over his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman's book, telling the American president's lawyers "at base, your letter is nothing more than an obvious attempt to silence legitimate criticism of the president".
Unhinged is an insider's account from Trump's former assistant and director of communications for the office of public liaison which provides "a jaw-dropping look into the corruption and controversy of the current administration". Following the book’s publication in both the US and the UK three days ago, Trump's lawyers claimed that Manigault Newman was breaking a non-disclosure agreement, including a non-disparagement clause and confidentiality clause, and threatened her publisher with "substantial monetary damages and punitive damages".
The day after the book’s release in the UK and US on Tuesday (14th August), Elizabeth McNamara of Davis Wright Tremaine, outside counsel for Simon & Schuster and its imprint Gallery Books, responded that the publisher "will not be intimidated by hollow legal threats", adding it had gone ahead with publication of the book as scheduled.
Responding to a letter from Trump's litigation counsel Charles Harder, McNamara made a point of saying Trump, as the president of the US, had "a bully pulpit" at his disposal and "the largest platform in the world" to challenge statements in the book.
She said further, "it is quite telling that at no point do you claim that any specific statement in the book is false. Your client does not have a viable legal claim merely because unspecified truthful statements in the book may embarrass the President or his associates. At base, your letter is nothing more than an obvious attempt to silence legitimate criticism of the president."
"Put simply, the book's purpose is to inform the public," she wrote. "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."
S&S US released a statement saying: "Despite various legal claims and threats made by representatives of the Trump campaign, Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster are proceeding as planned with publication of Unhinged by Omarosa Manigault-Newman, confident that we are acting well within our rights and responsibilities as a publisher."
Trump tweeted this week, on the day prior to publication:
Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
...really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me - until she got fired!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
Trump unsuccessfully attempted to prevent publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury with legal action at the start of 2018. Despite Macmillan, the book’s publisher in the US, being issued with a cease and desist notice, publication was moved forward by four days in both the US and UK in light of “unprecedented demand”. Reflecting on the book's phenomenal success, Wolff later told The Bookseller: "Every time the president would do something it was like, 'can god smile on one man this much?’”