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Donald Trump Is Seeking To Stop A Book Critical Of Him From Being Published

Trump Burning Constitution

Lawyers for President Trump are seeking to stop the impending publication of a new tell-all book about his campaign and the early days of his Administration that has already been making headlines:

WASHINGTON — President Trump escalated his attack on a new bookportraying him as a volatile and ill-equipped chief executive on Thursday as his legal team demanded that the author and publisher halt the release of the account scheduled for next week and apologize or face a possible lawsuit.

In an 11-page letter, the president’s lawyer said the book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by Michael Wolff, as excerpted in a magazine article, includes false statements about Mr. Trump that “give rise to claims for libel” that could result in “substantial monetary damages and punitive damages.”

“Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book, the article, or any excerpts or summaries of either of them, to any person or entity, and that you issue a full and complete retraction and apology to my client as to all statements made about him in the book and article that lack competent evidentiary support,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Charles J. Harder, a prominent libel lawyer based in Beverly Hills, Calif., and was sent to Mr. Wolff and Steve Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt & Co. It follows a similar cease-and-desist letter sent by Mr. Harder on Wednesday night to Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, who is quoted in the book making derogatory comments about the president and his family.

While other presidents have avoided direct confrontations with publishers over unflattering books for fear of giving them more publicity, Mr. Trump is furious about Mr. Wolff’s account and about Mr. Bannon’s comments, according to advisers. Through a long career in real estate and entertainment, Mr. Trump has repeatedly threatened lawsuits against authors, journalists and others, but often has not followed through, and it was unclear whether he would in this case.

“He called me a great man last night,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday at the White House. “He obviously changed his tune pretty quick.

Mr. Wolff did not immediately reply to a request for comment. His editor, John Sterling, said by email, “We haven’t yet responded to the letter.”

The book, which quickly shot up to number one on Amazon’s best-seller list following articles about it on Wednesday, quotes Mr. Bannon describing a meeting held by Donald Trump Jr. with Russians during the 2016 campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” and quotes him calling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.”

It presents Mr. Trump as an unengaged candidate and president who grew bored when an aide tried to explain the Constitution to him and refuses to read even one-page briefing papers. Various advisers to the president are reported to have called him an “idiot,” a “dope” or “dumb” as dirt. And Melania Trump, the president’s wife, is described as being so unhappy about the prospect of life in the White House that she was in tears on election night.

Mr. Trump fired back with a blistering statement on Wednesday saying that Mr. Bannon had “lost his mind” and “has nothing to do with me or my presidency.” In separate statements, the White House called the book “trashy tabloid fiction” that is “filled with false and misleading accounts” and Mrs. Trump disputed characterizations of her views.

Mr. Bannon, who left the White House under pressure last summer but had until now stayed in touch sporadically with Mr. Trump, sought to smooth over the rift during his Breitbart News radio show on Wednesday night.

This move comes after a similar cease and desist letter was sent by Trump’s attorneys to Steve Bannon, alleging that he was violating the terms of a non-disclosure agreement by discussing internal campaign and White House matters and by making “disparaging” comments about the President and members of his family.  This letter appears to corroborate reports that Trump has required people working on his campaign, and potentially in the Administration itself, to sign the same kind of non-disclosure/non-disparagement agreement that was reportedly commonplace for people who work at The Trump Organization. What’s unclear is the extent to which an agreement such as this can be enforced in a context such as this. While courts have upheld such agreements in the private sphere, there are very few cases on the record where any political candidate or politician has required their own employees to sign such agreements and no cases where courts have ruled on whether or not such agreements can even be enforced. At the very least, though, it would seem unlikely that any such agreement could be applied to White House employees, and at least some possibility that a court would rule that the public interest would outweigh any privacy concerns when it comes to enforcing such an agreement in the context of a political campaign.

Most of the news media attention regarding the book yesterday focused on the comments that Steve Bannon made about Trump, his son Donald Jr., other members of Trump’s family, and a whole host of White House and campaign aides during what were apparently hours of open-ended interviews with author Michael Wolff. There is much, much more to the book than that, though, and much of it is detailed in the excerpt that was published yesterday in New  York magazine and again today in a piece published by The Hollywood Reporter.  Many of these revelations seem to substantiate reports we’ve seen before, such as the fact that Trump never believed he would actually win the election and that both he and some members of his family were visibly glum when it became apparent on Election Night when it became clear that he was going to win the Electoral College. Additionally, the book apparently details observations that staffers interviewed by Wolff passed on regarding the President’s behavior over the past year, including several anecdotes that call his mental acuity into question in some rather serious ways. The White House is flatly denying these claims, but Axios is reporting that Wolff taped his interviews with Bannon and other staffers and, if that’s the case, then it could be difficult for the White House to debunk the veracity of these reports without effectively asserting that the President’s own staffers were lying to someone who they knew was in the process of writing a book about the President.

As a matter of law, it seems highly unlikely that the President and his attorneys would be at all successful in an effort to prevent this book from being published and that their letter to the author and publisher is little more than legal bluster designed to try to undermine the impact of the book itself. As a general rule, courts have disfavored what is generally called “prior restraint,” meaning the effort by a government entity to stop publication of material that is clearly protected by the First Amendment. While the attorneys who authored the cease and desist letter are Trump’s private lawyers, the fact that Trump himself is the President of the United States means that the line between what is private and what is public is blurred significantly. Additionally, courts in the past have made it extremely difficult for even private parties from obtaining court orders barring the publication of material they claim to be false or defamatory. In many such cases, courts have ruled that there are sufficient protections in the law that allow for the punishment of libelous or defamatory material such that barring the publication of the entire work cannot be justified. In a case such as this dealing with the internal operations of the campaign and Administration of the President of the United States, it seems likely that any court presented with the matter would be likely to find that the public’s right to know outweighs any damage that might be suffered by the subject of the book and that the laws against libel, slander, and defamation provide a sufficient remedy for those claims that can be shown to be factually untrue.

As I noted, it seems fairly clear that the reasons behind these letters have little to do with the legal merits of the assertions made in them and everything to do with trying to discredit the book itself. Even based on just the two book excerpts I linked to above, which I recommend reading in full, it’s clear that Wolff’s book is likely to prove to be highly embarrassing to the Administration in general and the President in particular. Additionally, it’s been reported that Trump himself is “furious” about the revelations in the book, making it likely that he directed his attorneys to “do something” about it. In that regard, it’s possible to look at these letters as little more than an effort by Trump’s lawyers to prove to their client that they did something even if what they did doesn’t stop the book from being published and fails to stop the truth about his Presidency from coming out. Nonetheless, this is yet another example of the obvious contempt that this President has shown for the First Amendment, freedom of speech and of the press, and the rule of law. I’d call it surprising or shocking, but with this President, it’s just standard operating procedure.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Good, I was hoping you’d do some analysis on this.

    Should the courts attempt prior restraint, the text will be up, online and in full within minutes. This is not 1971 and these are not the Pentagon Papers.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 0

  2. KM says:

    The best part about all this is he’s basically confirming all of it by trying to stop it instead of his usual FAKE NEWS!! routine. Trump’s got two default responses: threaten-to-sue and publicly-mock. Fake news is the best example of the later where he uses his kayfabe fu skills to dazzle rubes into thinking small lies are NBD – and by small, I mean the kind that aren’t going to cripple him. The lawyers come out for the things he really fears have gravitas and can shut him down. He threatens to sue the rape accusers, the government for investigating him and now Bannon / Wolff? There’s enough solid dirt in that book to build a dam then.

    Trump doesn’t give a damn about the First Amendment. His obsession with NDAs shows how blatantly he’s disrespected the concept since explained a way to legally shut people up. When he was the boss, he could run his little fiefdom the way he wanted and let the lawyers duke it out. Now? We own him. He works for us. The rules for the President and real estate developer are very, very different and he’s about to get schooled.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  3. Slugger says:

    I am surprised by this action. Surely Mr. Trump’s handler are familiar with the concept of samizdat. It is in their native language.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  4. CSK says:

    Official publication dates are merely conveniences for reviewers, so that the book is available for purchase when the book is reviewed. So, this book physically exists. It’s in the Holt warehouses, and it’s being shipped. Advance copies–unless they’ve been embargoed–are all over the place. Publication can’t be stopped; it’s a done deal.

    Trump’s lawyers are pretty much guaranteeing that Fire and Fury will zoom straight to the top of every bestseller list.

    Wolff and Holt are jumping for joy.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Trump is the head of a crime family. Big surprise he’d love NDA’s. I’m sure every mafia don in prison is kicking himself.

    Question for Doug: Is there any way that criminal defendants could cite Trump’s repeated denigration of the FBI as a way to undermine FBI-supplied evidence?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    I pre-ordered mine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. SenyorDave says:

    the fact that Trump never believed he would actually win the election and that both he and some members of his family were visibly glum when it became apparent on Election Night when it became clear that he was going to win the Electoral College.

    It is pretty easy to believe the stories that Bannon, Trump and a few others were going to start a network to compete with Fox after the election. It would be a 24/7 Hillary and the Democrats are destroying the country, only it would target Trump’s minions. I believe that winning this election has cost Trump dearly. He lost his chance at making some real money (his rubes were ripe for the plucking), and now he is facing his worst nightmare in Mueller. Trump’s 50+ years of skating on any misdeeds are in jeopardy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  8. James Pearce says:

    We’ll have to rename the Streisand effect after @realdonaldtrump…

    I read the excerpt and wanted more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  9. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You too, huh?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Pete S says:

    If I were Holt I would offer Trump a deal – you read every word on every page of the book in a reasonable amount of time (say half a day, should be no problem for someone who reads as many documents as Trump does) and we will publish and distribute a rebuttal book for you at our expense and will give it away free to the public. As long as you write it yourself. Our only condition is that you need to have a neutral witness observe you reading our book and writing your rebuttal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  11. SenyorDave says:

    @Pete S: Our only condition is that you need to have a neutral witness observe you reading our book and writing your rebuttal.

    And that witness could be… Geraldo Rivera, fresh off his massive success in exposing the treasures of Al Capone’s vault.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. They Saved Nixon's Brain says:

    Who’s got the more colorful cronies? Me or that amateur Trump?

    All that crap, you’re putting it in the paper? It’s all been denied. Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published.
    John N. Mitchell
    Former United States Attorney General and Jailbird.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. Lit3Bolt says:

    The smart PR strategy would be to dismiss the book or ignore it, but Trump’s diminished capacity and inflated ego means he’s going to stew about it for weeks, if not years, a la Captain Queeg and the quart of missing strawberries. If he attempts to sue for defamation or recording without prior consent, the mere motions of discovery will likely be unbearable and untenable for the administration to survive.

    Question for Doug: If the content of the book ever did come to trial, what jurisdiction would it be in?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. Kathy says:

    By far the very best thing Trump can do about this book, is to pursue a high-profile lawsuit. Hell he should threaten to close down the publisher entirely, to raid bookstores and libraries that stock it, and to detain anyone who buys it or reads it.

    That would be the best thing Trump can do to help the world, as it would utterly destroy him.

    The best thing he could do for himself, is so rational and reasonable there’s no chance at all he’d do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  15. CSK says:

    Breaking news: Holt has moved the official “on sale day” to January 5. The book will be available at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

    No fools they.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. Guytano Parks says:

    …fuck the god damned, despicably deplorable, mother-fucking, ugly, orange, fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon to god damned fucking hell!!!… I’m going to buy the book!!!…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Mikey says:

    So when asked about Trump’s relationship with Bannon, Sarah Sanders replied “I’m not aware they were ever particularly close.”

    Before long, it’ll be “The President was never particularly well-acquainted with Ivanka Trump.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  18. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    “Jared who?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. MarkedMan says:

    I thought Doug’s comment was interesting:

    some possibility that a court would rule that the public interest would outweigh any privacy concerns when it comes to enforcing such an agreement in the context of a political campaign.

    Let’s say Trump follows through with this suit and a judge rules exactly that. All of a sudden, all those people who worked on Trump’s campaign would be free to talk on the record. Oh, joyous joy!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. Pete S says:

    So Trump’s case here would be that he permitted a reporter unprecedented access to the White House, but nobody was allowed to talk to the guy? Really? And he is the one pushing that the reporter is wrong? Is he trying to get his kids to drag him to a competency hearing? Or am I missing something?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And they’d feel free to talk.

    There must be a battalion of people whom Trump treated like yesterday’s garbage who’d love to get some of their own back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. al-Ameda says:

    @CSK:

    There must be a battalion of people whom Trump treated like yesterday’s garbage who’d love to get some of their own back.

    Wouldn’t that be anyone (everyone?) who has done business with Trump over the past 37 years?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. Pete S says:

    @al-Ameda: @CSK: If everyone he screwed over in the past 40 years broke their NDA’s he couldn’t sue everyone. I don’t think he would have the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. CSK says:

    @al-Ameda: @Pete S:

    See, the thing about Trump is that he ONLY goes after “the little people” (those he purports to champion)–freelance writers; little old ladies trying to hang onto their homes; the plumbers, electricians, painters, and carpenters unlucky enough to have worked on one of his properties, whom he loves to stiff; the undocumented immigrant Polish construction team to whom he paid a whopping 4 dollars per hour for doing very hard, dangerous work, etc. He said himself that he loves suing those with no clout and no financial resources: “It costs me a few dollars and bankrupts them.”

    That quote, more than any other asinine, repulsive thing he’s ever said, encapsulates for me what a loathsome excrescence on the body politic Trump is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Here’s another report of that.

    Everyone is sniggering.

    (And no, this isn’t any eleventy-billion dimensional chess thingamajig that Trump is doing so he can slyly get something past the peanut gallery with his other hand. Amazing the number of people who are convinced that Trump is a cosmic mastermind.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “Should the courts attempt prior restraint, the text will be up, online and in full within minutes. ”

    Nah, this ain’t the Pentagon Papers — this is copyrighted. So the publisher is doing the next best thing — moving the release date from next Tuesday to tomorrow. Which means at 9am, Amazon is going to automatically download the kindle version to my phone and my two iPads — and I’m pretty sure to many hundreds of thousands of others — at the same time they’re shipping out hard copies.

    Since you’re a writer, too, I’m pretty sure that your third thought on reading about this book was the same as mine — “Man, that Wolff guy is going to be rich.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Ho ho ho do I have a (non-Trump) story about what happens if you’re an 800-lb gorilla company and your attitude towards all your competitors is to bankrupt them with patent infringement claims….

    ….at some point people get pissed enough that the next company you attack starts getting prior art in the mail wrapped up in brown paper, said art invalidating your own patents.

    (I got dragged into this because, erm, translation abilities. And the thesis we were sent indeed was the smoking gun…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. CSK says:

    @wr:

    That depends on how large his advance was and how long it takes to cash out the advance. I wish him the best.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. Liberal Capitalist says:

    To use the slogan from Trump’s favorite food source…

    ba da ba ba ba… I’M LOVIN IT !!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    I sold the same book series (Gone) into the US and the UK markets. The US end puts out namby, pamby covers that look like a fwcking Mormon romance. The UK publisher made an all matte-black cover, radioactive yellow endpapers, and a prominent warning that the book was chock full of violence.

    I sell as many books in the UK as in the entire US. I would cut off a finger for a sash saying “The Book Trump Doesn’t Want You To Read.” I could retire on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    If he didn’t get a million advance he needs to fire his agent. He’ll blow right through whatever escalator they wrote in, so figure almost all his sales at 15% royalty or better. Plus bonuses for hitting the NYT list. I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t see at least $3 million.

    But that’s just the start. There’ll be a deal for a second book. This first book will absolutely be optioned for serious money, another million < (purchase), and his lecture fees will break five figures.

    At least $5 million in the next two or three years. He'll keep $4 of that after agent and probably manager. But I suspect I'm lowballing. Non-fiction is not my area.

    No merch, though. Pity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Andrew Wylie is Wolff’s agent, which means he’s pretty much got one of the top agents in NY representing him. Wylie’s been famous since the 1980s for getting fantastic deals for his clients. It wouldn’t surprise me if the advance were a million. But either way–front end or back end–Wolff and Wylie will be raking in the chips.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. KM says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No merch, though. Pity.

    Trump made MAGA hats a thing so don’t bet on it. “Fire and Fury” could sell as T-shirts at least to those who are vaguely familiar with GOT and think it’s clever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @KM:
    Oval Office Inaction figures? Wolff could talk to Lucas and see whether they have some surplus Jabba the Hutt figures. Glue some ginger pubic hair on its head and you’d have a perfect Donald Trump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. CSK says:

    The interesting thing is, Bannon could sue Trump for publicly calling him crazy, and have a better chance of winning. First Amendment law frowns on calling people crazy or criminal without proof, because either accusation is deleterious to one’s reputation, which the courts regard as a tangible asset.

    Trump libeled Bannon. Trump has no defense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Is the publisher going to bother with paid advertising? Seems a waste of money now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. CSK says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    They may go the paid advertising route–because it allows them to justify a bigger overall advertising budget. Why does Coca-Cola spend millions and millions of dollars a year to advertise the sole product that’s familiar to everyone on earth?

    Publishers will tell you that advertising doesn’t sell books–then they’ll turn around and buy a $75,000 ad in the NYTimes Book review for a book that’s guaranteed to top the charts without advertising.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. Mr. Prosser says:

    Just got my Kindle edition from Amazon. Will be a fun weekend

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. rachel says:

    @CSK: Trump couldn’t plead insanity?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. dmichael says:

    @CSK: I don’t wish him the best. Wolff is very shrewd but a whore. He wrote several pro-Trump (more accurately, anti-anti-Trump) articles before Trump’s inauguration in order to flatter him into getting this access. While I can enjoy the schadenfreude, I am also aware of my confirmation bias and can’t assume that everything Wolff wrote is accurate. If there were any wise people in this White House (doubtful), they would focus on a demonstrably wrong entry in this book in an attempt to discredit it entirely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    They may go the paid advertising route–because it allows them to justify a bigger overall advertising budget.

    Bingo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. MarkedMan says:

    In another thread, there was discussion about what Dems could really do that was constructive. It’s a bit off topic, but I have a suggestion: Work on Republicans publicly and behind the scenes for the House and Senate to start real oversight on the administration, on all fronts. Really bring in the senior officials and grill them on basic management and oversight. Really vet all the appointees they vote on and make it clear that substandard candidates won’t get approval. It doesn’t have to be hostile or even overtly political. And I’m not talking about pressure just coming from elected officials. This is something that everyone with a Rep House or Senate member can do. I think there is a strong, self interested reason for them to agree to this.

    The best thing for the Republican Party is that Trump goes away, but advocating this is a sure ticket to the unemployment line for any given Republican. So it would be a godsend if he just quit. And the way to get him to quit is to make him scared and miserable. Investigating things like whether he fulfilled all his promises to divest his businesses can be spun as “putting the nonsense the Democrats are bringing up to rest. Of course we expect to find that he has more than complied in every way.” And then just politely grind him down. (And I know that what he proposed doing was completely inadequate. But this is Trump. How likely do you think he even did the modest things he promised?). Trump has made endless promises and talk about coming up with great plans for coal and trade and making the steel industry great again. Bring the heads of the agencies in to “give them a chance” to show their work, to demonstrate all the progress they have made. He’s submitted all kinds of losers and lamers to agencies. Show these guys up for what they are and regretfully and publicly inform the President that he has been “poorly advised” and he needs to nominate a better candidate. For the Trump base they can play the naive Joan of Arc: Of course the King would put a stop to all these horrors if only he knew about them, but he has been surrounded by vipers and incompetents. We are the heroes for bringing it to his attention so he can fix it. Over and over and over again.

    You get the idea. Republicans reflexively spurn real oversight as dangerous to their side. But you can make a good argument that if Trump has to deal with the same old stuff every day, especially if it risks a close look at his own financial dealings, he’ll just quit. And I think we are finally to the point that the Repubs are, almost to a one, hoping to god it happens. With enough pressure, they can be convinced.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  43. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I see your idea, but if they are seen as driving Trump out of office (and they will be)…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @dmichael:
    He has tapes. Bannon has not challenged the veracity of his quotes because he knows it’s on tape and is smart enough not to get caught in an easily-contradicted lie.

    Also, the Wolff book supports reams of reporting from WaPo, NYT, Daily Beast and others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: It’s not just the possibility of tapes. People are pointing out that Bannon doesn’t deny what Wolff said. And we are two days into this and not a single Republican has come forward and said “This is ridiculous! I deal with Trump and he’s on top of his game! He is just as sharp as he’s ever been!”. Rather telling, given that when the same charges were raised against Reagan the entire leadership seemed to rally around him…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  46. CSK says:

    @dmichael:

    I don’t dispute your larger point about ethical journalism, but bear in mind that when the subject is someone as utterly sleazy, totally amoral, and swinish as Donald Trump, who never hesitates to smear anyone who disagrees with him, manipulating him into an interview seems much less of an offense than it would in other circumstances.

    Sometimes it takes a thief to catch a thief.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “No merch, though.”

    But quite possibly an HBO movie, most likely written by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach. Now that Halperin is toxic, they’re going to be looking for another “ripped from the political headlines” movie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  48. wr says:

    @dmichael: “If there were any wise people in this White House (doubtful), they would focus on a demonstrably wrong entry in this book in an attempt to discredit it entirely.”

    And yet, the only thing they keep pounding on is Trump apparently not knowing who Boehner was, despite having played golf with him. And that’s a double-edged sword, since it can also be seen as reinforcing his diminishing memory.

    So not only are there apparently no wise people in this White House, they also can’t find anything definitive to hammer. And they’re running out of time really fast — if they can’t undercut this book almost immediately, it’s going to be accepted as our new baseline for discussion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “Also, the Wolff book supports reams of reporting from WaPo, NYT, Daily Beast and others.”

    I get the feeling that there are plenty of reporters who would have happily taken Wolff down — not only out of jealousy, but because he’s a dick. But everything he writes matches up with what they’ve all seen or heard off the record…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. CSK says:

    Sarah Sanders has dismissed the book as “tabloid gossip,” which is thigh-slappingly funny in view of the fact that Trump has spend his adult life desperately trying to make himself fodder for tabloid gossip. He had Liz Smith on speed dial.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  51. Monala says:

    @dmichael: @CSK:

    This article from GQ says it well:

    As much as I wanna discredit Wolff, he got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them. …

    Thank God for that. Wolff has spent this week thoroughly exploiting Trump and his minions the same way they’ve exploited the cluelessness of others. And he pulled it off because, at long last, there was a reporter out there willing to toss decorum aside and burn bridges the same way Trump does. …

    [Wolff] did not engage in some endless bullshit access tango. No, Wolff actually USED his access, and extended zero courtesy to Trump on the process, and it’s going to pay off for him not just from a book sales standpoint, but from a real journalistic impact. I am utterly sick to death of hearing anonymous reports about people inside the White House “concerned” about the madman currently in charge of everything. These people don’t deserve the courtesy of discretion. They don’t deserve to dictate the terms of coverage to people. They deserve to be torched.

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  52. An Interested Party says:

    Il Douche thought he was Il Duce…poor delusional thing…

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  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr: Kevin Smith should make that movie.

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  54. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Yeah, but Melania is clearly not a Nancy Reagan type either. I doubt that she cares one whit about her husband’s reputation, but she probably wouldn’t be able to circle the wagons even if she cared to do so.

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