Wolff publisher fires back: ‘Fire and Fury’ publication to continue

Attorneys for Michael Wolff’s publisher fired back at President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE’s attorneys on Monday, calling the legal threats against the author “a gross violation of the First Amendment” and saying that publication of the book “Fire and Fury” would continue.

Last week, President Trump’s attorney Charles Harder sent a letter to Wolff’s publisher, Henry Holt, demanding it discontinue publication of the book and offer a full retraction and apology to the president for what Harder described as lies and falsehoods that run afoul of New York libel laws.

Amid a media frenzy, the publisher ended up releasing the book early and it promptly shot to the top of the charts.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a three-page letter written on behalf of Wolff and Henry Holt, lawyer Elizabeth McNamara of Davis Wright Tremaine said that publication of the book would continue and that there would be no apologies and no retractions.

McNamara argued that Wolff had been permitted “extraordinary access” to the Trump campaign and White House between May of 2016 and October of 2017 and that the more than 200 interviews with Trump and members of his inner circle informed Wolff’s reporting.

“We have no reason to doubt – and your letter provides no reason to change this conclusion – that Mr. Wolff’s book is an accurate report on events of vital public importance,” McNamara wrote. “Mr. Trump is the president of the United States, with the 'bully pulpit' at his disposal. To the extent he disputes any statement in the book, he has the largest platform in the world to challenge it.”

Trump’s attorneys have pointed to a disclaimer in the book, in which Wolff said Trump’s inner circle often gave conflicting accounts of what was going on and that in these instances, Wolff “settled on a version of events” that he believed to be true.

Wolff’s attorney disputed the argument, made by Trump’s attorneys, that the disclaimer is evidence that there are events in the book that did not take place.

“Mr. Wolff responsibly tells his readers his approach to confronting the well-established reality that many in this administration, most prominently the president, routinely traffic in verifiably false statements,” McNamara writes. “Thus, Mr. Wolff explains how he attempted to reconcile conflicting accounts.”

Wolff has a reputation for taking some creative license with his projects and Trump’s allies have seized on several questionable claims in the book, as well as some typos and factual inaccuracies that are normally caught in the copy editing process, to raise doubts about the entire book.

But Wolff’s defenders say the spirit of the book — which paints a picture of chaos and confusion in the White House and raises questions about Trump’s mental fitness — rings true and is an accurate reflection of reality, even if some anecdotes are up for debate.

Wolff’s lawyers also beat back at the notion that publication of the book must be stopped because Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, had broken contractual obligations between himself and the White House by speaking with Wolff. 

“The law treats sources like Mr. Bannon as adults, and it is Mr. Bannon’s responsibility – not Henry Holt’s or Mr. Wolff’s – to honor any contractual obligations,” McNamara said. “Indeed, your attempt to use private contacts to act as a blanket restriction on members of the government speaking to the press is a perversion of contract law and a gross violation of the First Amendment. No court would suppress such an attempt to silence public servants and the press.”

Bannon is a central figure in the book and is quoted as saying that Trump’s son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMueller investigating Russian payments made by Trump Tower meeting organizers: report The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Manafort’s plea deal — the clear winners and losers MORE was probably guilty of money laundering and that Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe On The Money: Trump signs first 2019 'minibus' spending package | Mueller probing transactions by Russian organizers of Trump Tower meeting | Stocks brush off trade fears Trump Jr. slams Rosenstein report: 'No one is shocked' MORE might have committed treason in meeting with a group of Russians during the campaign.

Those statements have provoked the president to dramatically cut ties with his former campaign chairman.

Wolff’s attorneys ended the letter with a veiled threat.



Trump’s attorneys had demanded that Wolff and the publisher keep all documents pertaining to the book in case they are needed as evidence in court.

McNamara said her clients would comply with that request, but said that the White House must do the same in regards to all of the events covered in the book.

“We must remind you that President Trump, in his personal and governmental capacity, must comply with the same legal obligations regarding himself,” McNamara said. “This would include any and all documents pertaining to any of the matters about which the book reports. Should you pursue litigation against Henry Holt or Mr. Wolff, we are quite confident that documents related to the contents of the book in the possession of President Trump, his family members, his businesses, his campaign, and his administration will prove particularly relevant to our defense.”