Trump's Ghostwriter Fight Yields Stunning Demand Letter Response
Donald Trump isn't getting along with his former ghostwriter, these days. Tony Schwartz, the co-author of Trump's 1987 memoir "The Art of the Deal," has taken to campaigning against the presidential candidate, going on national TV to call him "impulsive and self-centered." The man who helped create the Donald Trump myth is now working actively against it, arguing that Trump is unfit to lead the country and claiming full credit for his famous memoir.
But enough about Trump and Schwartz. In this battle between a bellicose presidential contender and a famous ghostwriter, the best lines are being exchanged by their lawyers.
I'd Like All Your Money Back, Please
Trump, being a litigious man, wasted little time sending his lawyers over to Schwartz. Within hours of Schwartz insulting Trump on "Good Morning America," Jason D. Greenblatt, chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, had penned a cease and desist letter.
Its demands were ambitious. According to the New Yorker, Greenblatt demanded the return of Schwartz's half of the advance for "The Art of the Deal," and all royalties he'd earned since its publication. That cash should be sent over via "a certified check made payable to Mr. Trump," and Schwartz should issue a statement retracting his comments, Greenblatt insisted, lest Trump pursue a defamation lawsuit.
Defamation, You Say?
Let's just say Schwartz was not impressed, shall we? His response, written by Elizabeth McNamara and brought to our attention by Above the Law's Joe Patrice last week, effectively shuts down Greenblatt's arguments in one paragraph, by noting that expressions of opinion aren't exactly defamatory:
Your letter alludes vaguely to "defamatory statements," "outright lies" and "downright fabrications," but you do not identify a single statement by Mr. Schwartz that is factually false, let alone defamatory. Instead, it is self-evident that Mr. Trump is most concerned with Mr. Schwartz's well-founded expressions of his own opinion of Mr. Trump's character, as well as Mr. Schwartz's accurately taking credit for the writing of "The Art of the Deal," which you pointedly do not contest.
But McNamara doesn't stop there, taking time to mock Trump for even bothering to demand that Schwartz stop speaking out. "The fact that Mr. Trump would spend time during the week of the Republican National Convention," she writes, "focused on settling a score with and trying to censor his co-author on a thirty-year-old book is, frankly, baffling, but only further underscores the very basis for Mr. Schwartz's criticisms."
Is it the best response to a cease and desist letter we've ever seen? No.
(We still have a soft spot for attorney Richard D. Trenk's demand letter response from a few years back, detailing how he attempted to convince his client that the initial letter was obviously "sent in jest and the world certainly can use more legal satire.")
But it's definitely good fun, hitting all the right notes of sarcasm, hyperbole, and downright condescension. After all, why should the politicians have all the fun insulting each other this election season?
- Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All (The New Yorker)
- Holy Crap: Lawyer's Led Zeppelin Complaint Is a Work of Art (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Courtroom Lessons From Donald Trump? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Who Needs Law School and the Bar Exam? Just Fake Being a Lawyer. (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
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