Tort Law

'Art of the Deal' author gets letter from Trump lawyer after giving negative interviews

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Art of the Deal book cover

Book cover courtesy of Panguin Random House.

Lawyers for Donald Trump and the ghostwriter of his book The Art of the Deal have fired off some strongly worded letters after the book author ominously suggested a Trump presidency could “lead to the end of civilization.”

The Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, Jason Greenblatt, wrote a cease-and-desist letter demanding a check for all book royalties paid to author Tony Schwartz and half of the advance.

The letter also sought a retraction of “defamatory statements” and assurances that Schwartz “will not generate or disseminate any misleading or inaccurate information or make any baseless accusations with respect to Mr. Trump.” The New Yorker, the New York Times and Above the Law have stories; Above the Law posts the letters here and here.

The letter followed two media interviews by Schwartz. He told the New Yorker he feels “a deep sense of remorse” for helping present Trump in a way that brings him wider attention. “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization,” he said.

Schwartz continued his attack on Good Morning America, ABC News reports. “This is a man who has more sociopathic tendencies than any candidate in my adult life that I’ve observed,” he said.

Schwartz said he wrote all of Trump’s book, though Trump made a few red marks on the manuscript. And he said he suspects the book is “full of falsehoods” supplied by Trump.

Greenblatt wrote that Trump was the mastermind behind the deals described in the book, and Schwartz wouldn’t have the details without Trump, who was responsible for the book’s great success.

“Lest your memory continue to fail you,” Greenblatt wrote, “let me liberate you from the notion that you were somehow prohibited from expressing your concerns about potential inaccuracies in the book prior to its publication. The agreement makes it clear that you had the right to make changes and modification to the book that you deemed necessary for accuracy.”

The letter also said Schwartz had “shown disloyalty” to Trump despite having spent “years collecting royalty payments generated by his inspiration and his hard work.”

Schwartz’s lawyer, Davis Wright Tremaine partner Elizabeth McNamara, sent a response saying Schwartz would not comply with Greenblatt’s demands, which are “without any foundation in law or fact.”

“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,” McNamara writes. “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.”

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