UPDATED: Publisher Henry Holt & Co. said that it was moving forward with the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” despite demands by President Trump’s personal lawyers to cease plans for publication.
“Henry Holt confirms that we received a cease and desist letter from an attorney for President Trump,” Patricia Eisemann, a spokeswoman for Henry Holt, said in a statement. “We see ‘Fire and Fury’ as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book.”
Michael Wolff, the author of the book, said on Twitter that the publication date will now be on Friday. “Here we go. You can buy it (and read it) tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. President,” he wrote.
Trump’s attorneys sent Wolff and Henry Holt a cease and desist letter, demanding that they abandon plans for the book’s release. They claim that the excerpts and other portions released from the book are defamatory, and they gave Wolff and his publisher until Friday to respond to their demands.
Moving up the date makes sense from a publicity standpoint: Wolff is due to appear on “Today” on Friday and “Meet the Press” on Sunday. The challenge that Trump’s team would have in halting the book’s publication is in legal precedent against prior restraint, an issue that is at the center of the new movie, “The Post,” about the Washington Post’s 1971 decision to publish the Pentagon Papers.
Trump’s attorney Charles Harder said in the letter to Wolff and Henry Holt that “your publication of the false/baseless statements about Mr. Trump gives rise to, among other claims, defamation by libel, defamation by libel per se, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference and contractual relations, and inducement of breach of contract.”
The book portrays Trump as unfit and unprepared for the demands of the presidency, and of a chaotic, infighting staff that surrounded him in the first six months of his presidency. But it also quotes numerous loyal supporters — like Tom Barrack of Colony Capital — as disparaging him. Adios reported on Thursday that Wolff has recordings of dozens of hours of interviews with White House staffers.
Wolff had access to the White House for the book, but it is unclear just how many times he interviewed Trump himself.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Thursday that “there are numerous examples of falsehoods that take place in the book. “
She said that a passage in which Trump appears unaware of who John Boehner is was “pretty ridiculous considering the majority of you have seen photos and, frankly, some of you have even tweeted out that the President not only knows him but has played golf with him, tweeted about him. I mean, that’s pretty simple and pretty basic. “
“Again, there are numerous mistakes, but I’m not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page, talking about a book that’s complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip, because it’s sad, pathetic, and our administration and our focus is going to be on moving the country forward,” she said.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted about the book, asserting that he authorized “zero access to White House” for Wolff, and saying that he never spoke to Wolff for the book. He also wrote that the book is “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist” and encouraged his followers to “look at [Wolff’s] past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve” — presumably referring to Steve Bannon.
I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2018