Months after President Donald Trump’s lawyers slapped Macmillan with a cease-and-desist letter in advance of the publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, the president has done similarly with Simon Schuster.
Charles Harder, a lawyer for President Trump, sent a letter to SS on August 13—a day before the publication date of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s tell-all about her stint in the White House, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House—warning of possible legal action. Trump’s letter threatens “substantial monetary damages and punitive damages” should the book be published, according to a response letter from SS counsel Elizabeth A. McNamara.
McNamara’s letter rejects Harder’s argument that a non-disclosure agreement allegedly signed by Manigault Newman would prevent SS from legally publishing the book. As McNamara explains in her letter: “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.”
In a statement, Simon Schuster said: “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.”
An early response to the cease-and-desist demand, from PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, condemned the president’s action as well. “Yet again the Trump Administration is attempting to intimidate a publishing house by threatening legal retaliation in an attempt to keep a book off the shelves and out the hands of Americans who wish to read it,” Nossel said in a statement.
Nossel, referring to the dust-up between the Trump administration and Macmillan over Fire and Fury, went on to say that the White House’s last attempt to keep a title from shelves “only fueled sales and conversation about the book.” She added: “It is deeply regrettable that the White House did not learn its lesson and persists with tactics that are both unlawful and unbecoming of the presidency.”
This piece has been updated with further information.