"A Substantial Payment of Damages"
October 20, 2019 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Trump Writes Unhinged ‘Legal’ Letter Demanding That CNN Pay Him Money (New York magazine)

The letter is based on a video produced by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas. The lawyer who wrote it, Charles Harder, is best known for representing former WWE star Hulk Hogan against Gawker (link to MeFi post on the subject).

CNN called the letter a 'desperate PR stunt' (Variety). Ted Boutros, a lawyer who has represented CNN, calls it 'absolutely ridiculous' (Law & Crime), while national security lawyer Bradley Moss also went with 'PR stunt' (Mediaite).

Studiously right-down-the-middle, The Hill characterized the situation thusly:

"Trump, with Harder as his attorney, has threatened in the past to sue news outlets as well as multiple women who accused him of sexual misconduct, but so far he has not followed through with the threatened litigation.

A case against CNN would likely face significant hurdles on First Amendment grounds."
posted by box (46 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
The flailing is just going to increase...
posted by Windopaene at 11:06 AM on October 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


I imagine that CNN staff (not the company, but its staff) would have a good case for a restraining order against Trump and his administration, by now.

Along with 50.8% of the country, for that matter — but as a legal matter, hasn't Trump done enough to merit legal consequences for an organized campaign of harassment, by now?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2019 [17 favorites]


The Rump has thrown a public tantrum? Unpossible!

As the article notes, this is straight from his playbook. Coming up next, stiffing the law firm that sent the letter.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 11:10 AM on October 20, 2019 [33 favorites]


The involvement of Charles Harder is what gave away the game for me. He is clown of truly Trumpian proportions and they clearly deserve each other.
posted by hwestiii at 11:32 AM on October 20, 2019


From the article: “ Trump’s business career shows a long history of threatening absurd lawsuits for the purpose of intimidation. At times he has succeeded in bullying his targets into backing down. Usually, he fails to follow through on his threats. ”

Not just Trump’s business career. This is pretty common everywhere. If you can’t get what you want, have your lawyer send a letter. It works sadly often, especially against people who don’t have the educational background to understand their rights or don’t have the money to hire someone who doesn’t. It’s not “unhinged” at all; it’s SOP. You wanted a businessman president, you got one.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2019 [19 favorites]


This does not even merit the response given in Arkell v. Pressdram.
posted by hat_eater at 11:55 AM on October 20, 2019 [44 favorites]


I get that all of this collective melting down is kind of funny on one level, but we mustn't forget that this is a rapidly aging racist delusional narcissist who is under tremendous stress and he has access to the nuclear codes. His impeachment is an emergency, within the boundaries of the due process that he is still owed at this point.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:58 AM on October 20, 2019 [86 favorites]


Dear White House,

We are writing to let you know that some asshole is apparently sending out letters on your stationary.

Sincerely,

CNN
posted by East14thTaco at 12:05 PM on October 20, 2019 [147 favorites]


Browns fan, Taco?
posted by davelog at 12:07 PM on October 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


No, but i know a good letter when I see one.
posted by East14thTaco at 12:20 PM on October 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


This seems like more than enough to establish declaratory judgment jurisdiction. If I were CNN I would call Trump’s bluff and haul him into court.
posted by jedicus at 12:23 PM on October 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


Trump? Unhinged? Say it ain't so!
posted by Splunge at 12:24 PM on October 20, 2019


This does not even merit the response given in Arkell v. Pressdram.

Oh, that's very good. Very British. It wasn't what I thought it might be, which was "send this jackass the bedbug letter."

Ha ha ha! Whoo. Seriously, our head of state is dangerously delusional.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:26 PM on October 20, 2019 [13 favorites]


best known for representing former WWE star Hulk Hogan against Gawker

... in 2016. More recently, as noted on his HarderLLP profile:

"In 2017, Mr. Harder won a multi-million dollar settlement payment and full retraction and apology on behalf of his client, First Lady Melania Trump, in a defamation lawsuit against the Daily Mail.

"In 2018, Mr. Harder defeated a defamation lawsuit filed by Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) on behalf of the President of the United States, which included a six-figure award of attorneys’ fees for his client, and a sanctions order imposed against his opponent."
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:51 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Otherwise he’ll destroy the economy of CNN...HE’S DONE IT BEFORE!
posted by spitbull at 12:53 PM on October 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


Oct. 2018 : Suspect arrested after explosive devices sent to Trump critics and CNN
Aug. 2019: Cesar Sayoc, who plead guilty to sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release
Sept. 2019: US Army soldier arrested after allegedly discussing bombing news network Two sources familiar with the matter say the network Smith discussed targeting with a vehicle bomb was CNN.

I'd like the President of the United States to keep CNN's name out of his mouth.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:33 PM on October 20, 2019 [25 favorites]


Missed one, and edit window; longer excerpt: Trump foe and CNN journalist Jim Acosta received FBI protection after death threats (The Independent, June 11, 2019) (WaPo, June 10, 2019)

CNN reporter Jim Acosta writes in a new book that his relationship with President Donald Trump started off relatively cordial, but soon descended into denunciations that led to death threats from Trump’s supporters, armed security around the newsman’s family and an incident in which police were called to his home, guns drawn. [...]

Mr Acosta reveals that he is regularly tailed by security guards whenever he covers one of Trump’s rallies (CNN has previously asked reporters not to disclose this in press accounts).

As death threats poured in during the days before the 2018 midterm elections, Mr Acosta began speaking with the FBI and police detectives who were investigating the threats, and discussing whether to wear a bulletproof vest at Trump rallies. CNN gave him round-the-clock protection.

At one point, someone “swatted” him, making a false report to police that a violent incident was occurring at his home. Police immediately descended on his residence with guns out, Mr Acosta writes. No one was injured.

posted by Iris Gambol at 1:43 PM on October 20, 2019 [9 favorites]


Do it. Subject Trump to discovery by a news organization. Seems smart.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:59 PM on October 20, 2019 [31 favorites]


i would think that the president owes CNN for the earned media
posted by eustatic at 2:08 PM on October 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


Is there any sort of precedent for an elected official being removed for office due to mental health issues?
posted by nickggully at 2:29 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I imagine that CNN staff (not the company, but its staff) would have a good case for a restraining order against Trump and his administration, by now.

Along with 50.8% of the country, for that matter — but as a legal matter


can...can someone try this pls

a class action restraining order
posted by schadenfrau at 2:30 PM on October 20, 2019 [15 favorites]


Is there any sort of precedent for an elected official being removed for office due to mental health issues?
Not-actually-precedent, but the mechanism is very plainly in the Constitution, the oft-referenced 25th Amendment, Section 4.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:35 PM on October 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Trump needs a PR stunt now? What, is he lacking for airtime?
posted by chavenet at 2:55 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


"The magazine said that Goldwater has a “severely paranoid personality and was psychologically unfit for the high office to which he aspired,”

"Apologies for Barry in advance."
posted by clavdivs at 3:02 PM on October 20, 2019


can someone try this pls

a class action restraining order


Ha. Or given that he's persistently making racist, sexist, and ableist comments, could someone -- maybe like a big cohort of Congressional staffers and the federal public employee unions -- threaten to sue their employers if they are required to deal with the guy? Maybe if we all ignore him in the name of ensuring harassment-free workplaces, he will go away?
posted by salvia at 3:04 PM on October 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


Not-actually-precedent, but the mechanism is very plainly in the Constitution, the oft-referenced

The only way the 25th is being invoked is if he has a stroke and is on a feeding tube and in a coma.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:06 PM on October 20, 2019


Stop trying to cheer me up.
posted by Splunge at 3:28 PM on October 20, 2019 [58 favorites]


I’m going to attempt to look on a potential bright side* in this. A lot has been written about the Gawker/Hogan suit, and about Thiel funding it as a sign of money subverting the press, and how it’s worked in more than one case (the recent news about the Iowa newspaper in financial difficulty because of legal bills stemming from a defamation lawsuit). What if (big if) those lawsuits were just about to gain traction, just about to become more of a standard thing, if only because they were largely not something the general public was aware of? What if, by playing this card way, way too early, before the practice was common enough that people had become acclimated to it without really ever being confronted with how insidious it is, what if Trump managed to poison the well for this sort of thing? What if he took something that needs darkness to operate and took his stupidly large (for compensatory reasons) gilded trump brand spotlight and lit this all up and said, “yeah, that’ll (word salad) work for me!”

One can hope.

*I have looked on the bright side in the past. It has not traditionally gone well for me.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:51 PM on October 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


Remember when Republicans were the party of tort reform?
posted by ckape at 4:00 PM on October 20, 2019 [23 favorites]


As always when Trump flails about publicly like this, all I really want to know is, what's happening in the next few days that he wants to distract me from?
posted by mannequito at 4:14 PM on October 20, 2019 [34 favorites]


You wanted a businessman president, you got one.

I think after this, we can put aside that "government should be run like a business" horseshit for a few decades, right?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:20 PM on October 20, 2019 [43 favorites]


At least we’ll specify what kind of business.
posted by clew at 4:25 PM on October 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


It'll be a company town model. Get back in your PrimeCubical, PrimeCitizen!
posted by loquacious at 4:28 PM on October 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


At least we’ll specify what kind of business.
posted by clew


Yeah. Maybe back off from Mafia family business?
posted by Splunge at 4:32 PM on October 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


So how about a campaign where about 50-100 million citizens all file suit in local small claims courts for various complaints like mental anguish, provably false statements of libel or slander about entire races or classes of people and/or just lost sleep because he has access to the nuclear codes and he's an unhinged moron keeping everyone awake at night with existential dread?

How many lawsuits or claims - substantiated or not - would it take to bankrupt him in legal fees or default judgements alone?

What's the world record for someone with the most lawsuits total or at one time? I bet we could beat that in a week.

Even better if it makes him spend any personal time at all in any number of tiny and highly uncomfortable and spartan municipal courthouses all over the US. Ideally at least several hours in each one, especially the ones without air conditioning below the Mason-Dixon line.

Hey Soros where's my paycheck?
posted by loquacious at 4:37 PM on October 20, 2019 [13 favorites]


I think after this, we can put aside that "government should be run like a business" horseshit for a few decades, right?

I’m sure President Pence will insist on running it like a religion.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:15 PM on October 20, 2019 [16 favorites]


provably false statements of libel or slander about entire races or classes of people

So, this would be group libel, which is... a bit more complicated an area of law in the US than individual libel or defamation, from what I can tell. It would make a good FPP - I have a couple links on the topic that I could pass along (I, myself, don't have the time at present to do the research to put together a fully accurate or complete post, unfortunately).
posted by eviemath at 8:32 PM on October 20, 2019 [1 favorite]




Sorry for being off topic, but:

Could someone PM me with details on how to get on the Political Slack, please?

I found a link, but it seemed to be the case that whatever invite was involved had expired.
posted by bootlegpop at 9:15 PM on October 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


i would think that the president owes CNN for the earned media
posted by eustatic at 5:08 PM on October 20


Nativist advertising?
posted by BS Artisan at 4:44 AM on October 21, 2019


This letter is entirely in-character for the same guy who gives the finger to astronauts, per that Liberal Fake News cesspool C-SPAN: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4823553/trump-flips-women-astronauts

(The caption could stand to move the quotation marks from the word "fix" over to the right a couple of words.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:04 AM on October 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


per that Liberal Fake News cesspool C-SPAN

I feel you, but: "This clip, title, and description were not created by C-SPAN."
posted by naoko at 7:37 AM on October 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


I think that refers to the "clip" as an excerpt of a longer video -- in this case, a short piece of the full 18-minute "PRESIDENT TRUMP REMARKS ON NASA SPACEWALK" linked to in the line about those red words.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:17 AM on October 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


You wanted a businessman president, you got one.

I think after this, we can put aside that "government should be run like a business" horseshit for a few decades, right?


The Republicans have been running government as a business for some time now. They load the government up with massive amounts of debt for a term or two while taking whatever they want from it and then walk away leaving someone else to deal with the debt load, gutted staffing and infrastructure.

Classic private equity model.
posted by srboisvert at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2019 [23 favorites]


Want Trump to Go? Take to the Streets. Another moment for public protest has arrived. [SLNYT Opinions page]

Ugh. You know what? Why don't you, David Leonhardt Opinion Columnist, join any one of numerous advocacy networks and, speaking as someone who stands ready to pitch in with the work, make this suggestion? You might even discover that the people who work full-time leading these networks have already activated strategies towards this goal. In the process, you could get more nuanced about the relative difficulty and the pros and cons of text-banking vs. phone-banking vs. street marches vs. showing up at townhalls. Don't just sit back and give advice as though coming up with the idea is the hard part and the implementation is easy. Ugh. (Am I overreacting?)
posted by salvia at 11:35 PM on October 21, 2019 [10 favorites]


Atlanta traffic was extra terrible today, thanks to a certain orange clown and his traveling circus, and it reminded me of this thread. Trump spent much of the afternoon literally across the street from the CNN Center in Atlanta, so it doesn't seem like the whole lawsuit angle was ever very serious.

So, what I would like people to take more seriously is tripartite:

1) Pay attention to what Slarty Bartfast and Iris Gambol pointed out upthread most plainly-- behind the easy-mark buffoonery there is a lot of real danger and actual harm being perpetrated on countless people worldwide. People trying to cross into the U.S. are still having their constitutional and human rights casually ignored, to name just one flagrant injustice that seems to be fading into the background.

2) I understand that this isn't the sort of situation that we can get out of by playing "ignore the troll," but I wish that people really would focus more on acting instead of reacting to the ridiculous but real threat of Donald Trump. Just like Atalanta (no relation, apparently?), we'd probably be much better off focusing on our own immediate goals instead of getting distracted by some flailing loser who is always trying to perpetrate some gaudy distraction or another. It's just feels defeatist to see "You wanted a businessman president, you got one" so early in the thread, "President Pence" mentions soon after, and other little sayings that stand out to me because I reject their premises, even as "jokes." (I ask again: why does anyone believe that Donald Trump actually has any money at all? Not like it would improve my opinion of him, but it's just so [citation needed] that I find it jarring when other people don't push back on it at all.)

Please keep your bullshit detectors (pdf source) properly calibrated, is what I'm asking here.

And now, having just said that, the last part speculates about sexual assault, so stop here if you'd rather not think about THAT today.

3) I'm still not over the weirdness of Trump repeatedly meeting with Putin behind closed doors, coming away from those meetings meek and subservient, and, most surprisingly, keeping quiet about those meetings since then, in public and in private apparently.

So.

Donald Trump is a stupid, conceited, self-aggrandizing braggart. He tells on himself with the slightest provocation, or with no provocation at all. (The Access Hollywood audio, "Russia, if you're listening," and a number of other debacles that would have landed anyone else in jail by now. "What is the difference between Donald Trump and Bill Cosby?" would be a good question for serious consideration, I think, but I'm just trying to wrap up this comment ASAP right now!) When his situation goes against him, he still does not hesitate to boast/lie openly, against all fact and reason (Inauguration crowd size). He's not particularly embarrassed about gaffes that fall outside of his narrow wheelhouse of personal interests, either. (Remember "hamberders," "covfefe," and expecting him to cop to not really knowing who Frederick Douglass was?)

So, review the very short list of personal interests that Trump does seem to respond to (money, prestige, blood, illness, violence, sex, dominance, adulation) and identify a way that Putin could, in a private area with Trump, use one or more of those things to coerce Trump into the cowed subservience that he was displaying in Helsinki, and--

Listen, to quote Sherlock Holmes, "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Recorded sexual humiliation is the most feasible option from the list, the one thing that Trump would respond to in the manner that he has, without ever saying a word about what happened in that room. If it had been positive, or neutral, or even negative in a way that he does not care about, we would have heard about it by now. He would never brag about being coerced into giving Putin a blowjob, and he can't deny it or tell a distracting lie if he knows that there's video, so that's probably what happened. If you think a homophobic Cold Warrior like Putin would NOT take the chance to gain this sort of leverage over the U.S. President if he had the chance... well, like I said at the end of the last megathread, I would LOVE to be convinced otherwise by anyone willing to take a crack at it here!

And since it's supposed to be a matter of government record, in SOME capacity beyond what he has been willing to discuss so far, I would really love to make the sonofabitch deny it.

(Except I really DO think it's true. This timeline is such garbage.)
posted by tyro urge at 12:01 AM on November 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


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