Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Genuine Menace': Trump Calls in Lawyers to Block Publication of Embarrassing Book

The forthcoming exposé, which features interviews with West Wing insiders, raises questions about the president's fitness for office and could be useful to the Russia investigation 

Jessica Corbett

President Donald Trump is attempting to block a publisher from releasing a new "bombshell" book about his presidency. (Photo: Notions Capital/Flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump is attempting to block the release of a highly-anticipated "bombshell" book featuring interviews with members of his inner circle—including those who reportedly called him a "fucking idiot" and said "He's not only crazy, he's stupid"—by submitting a cease-and-desist letter to the book's publisher. 

"Having the President even threaten to legally block publication of a book about his administration is a genuine menace."
—Glenn Greenwald, journalist

In the letter to Henry Holt and Co., Trump attorney Charles J. Harder demands the publisher "immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release, or dissemination of the book," including excerpts and summaries.

The attorney also requests a full copy of the book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which was written by journalist Michael Wolff and set hit shelves next week. Harder makes a number of allegations, including defamation by libel, invasion of privacy, and in response to explosive remarks made by former presidential adviser Steve Bannon, inducement of breach of contract. 

Bannon received his own cease-and-desist letter from Trump's lawyers late Wednesday, in which they allege Bannon violated an employment agreement with the Trump Organization "by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company." 

The letters followed a lengthy statement from the president in response to an excerpt of the book published Wedenesday by New York Magazine, in which Trump asserted that when Bannon "was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."

Axios reported early Thursday that Wolff recorded several interviews—including ones with Bannon—and was cleared to access the West Wing multiple times. Wolff "was frequently spotted wandering the West Wing with no escort or ensconced in Bannon's office, especially during the early months of the administration," the according to the Post. The writers says he interviewed more than 200 people for the book.

Though some sources have pushed back against how their remarks were portrayed in summaries and excerpts released so far, as one columnist put it, Wolff's depiction of Trump as "an immature 71-year-old incapable of maintaining attention long enough to process new information or even conduct a serious conversation" raises new concerns about his mental fitness for the presidency.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald criticized Wolff's work as a reporter while also emphasizing that "having the President even threaten to legally block publication of a book about his administration is a genuine menace."

Others have pointed out that the book could be helpful to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the ongoing investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election. 

As former federal prosecuter Renato Mariotti explained in a series of tweets—making note of a column by the Post's Jennifer Rubin on the same topic—Mueller could use White House insiders' "statement to Wolff to find leads that will help him obtain admissible evidence," and "if a Trump aide told Mueller something different than they told Wolff, that could create liability for them."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·

Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·

Ex-CFO Allen Weisselberg Pleads Guilty to 15 Felonies, Set to Testify Against Trump Organization

The former executive will serve only five months on Rikers Island if he testifies in the upcoming criminal trial of the business.

Jessica Corbett ·

Biden Urged to Take Steps to Finally Get Rid of DeJoy as He Plows Ahead With Job Cuts

"Claims that Biden can't do anything to oust DeJoy are misleading," said one watchdog group.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo