UPDATE: Henry Holt refuses to cease publishing of "Fire and Fury"
The president sent a cease-and-desist letter to the publisher of "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." Henry Holt responds.
Updated Jan. 9, 2018: "Fire and Fury" is flying off the shelves even faster than publisher Henry Holt & Co anticipated. CNN reports that the publisher is facing backorders from booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And yesterday, lawyers representing Henry Holt & Co as well as author Michael Wolff sent Trump's attorney a response to the cease-and-desist letter received last week.
The letter, obtained by HuffPost, states that they will not cease publishing of Wolff's work that was released four days earlier than originally planned. Attorney Elizabeth McNamara writes: "My clients do not intend to cease publication, no such retraction will occur, and no apology is warranted."
"Though your letter provides a basic summary of New York libel law, tellingly, it stops short of identifying a single statement in the book that is factually false or defamatory," the letter continues. "Instead, the letter seems designed to silence legitimate criticism."
NEW: Counsel to "Fire and Fury" author and publisher responds to Pres. Trump's legal counsel: "My clients do not intend to cease publication, no such retraction will occur, and no apology is warranted." https://t.co/9scdVvbpwq pic.twitter.com/F2AXeeex5m— ABC News (@ABC) January 8, 2018
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Updated Jan. 5, 2018: Despite efforts from Trump and his lawyers, Michael Wolff's tell-all book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," which includes disparaging comments against the president from Stephen Bannon and others, was released four days early on Friday, Jan. 5. The original release date was Jan. 9.
"We see 'Fire and Fury' as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book," a spokesperson for the publisher said in a statement Thursday. The spokesperson explained that the shift in the on-sale date was "due to unprecedented demand."
Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted: "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!"
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
Wolff refuted this on the TODAY Show Friday morning, saying that he "absolutely spoke to the president" despite Trump's claims otherwise. "I have recordings, I have notes, I am certainly and absolutely in every way comfortable with everything I have reported in this book," Wolff said, claiming that of his "millions" of published columns and other content in the media, "I don't think there has ever been one correction."
Wolff went on to say that Trump is actually helping with sales. "Where do I send the box of chocolates?" he said. "Not only is he helping me sell books but he’s helping me prove the point of the book. This is extraordinary that a president of the United States would try to stop the publication of a book."
People even lined up at midnight to buy it. At a Kramerbooks in D.C., a sales clerk announced the store had sold out in 20 minutes once the midnight crowd made their way to the shelves, as one BuzzFeed reporter noted:
Original Story Jan. 4, 2018: As revealed by excerpts published in the media Wednesday, Michael Wolff’s book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," with over 200 staff and insider interviews, quotes former strategist Stephen Bannon (among others) as making disparaging comments against the president and his family. The book is set for release on Jan. 9, and now, Trump is trying to stop its publication.
Washington Post reported that on Thursday, Trump sent a letter to Wolff and the book’s publisher, Henry Holt & Co, demanding "immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book." The letter requests a full copy as part of their investigation and demands an issued apology to the president. It also demanded cease and desist of any further excerpts.
The letter states that the book "appears to cite no sources for many of its most damaging statements," and this "give[s] rise to claims for libel" which could result in "substantial monetary damages and punitive damages."
No specific statements were pointed out in the letter, but it claims that the book itself even admits to containing "untrue statements," reported The New York Times. Wolff reportedly writes in the author's note that his accounts of interviews "are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue."
In Wolff's book, the president's advisers call him an "idiot," or a "dope," according to The New York Times. It's also revealed that former campaign aide Sam Nunberg had to explain the Constitution to Trump at the start of his presidental campaign.
"I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head," Nunberg says.
Wolff's editor, John Sterling, told The New York Times in an email Thursday that they "haven’t yet responded to the letter." Wolff also said by email that he is "wholly comfortable with my numerous sources."
Excerpts from the book were published in New York Magazine and The Guardian Wednesday. In them, Bannon calls the meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russian operatives "treasonous" and "unpatriotic," and says that Trump knew about the meeting, despite his claims otherwise.
"Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately," Bannon, who was fired from the White House in August and returned to Breitbart News as executive chairman, states in Wolff's book.
"The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero," Bannon adds.
Trump said in a statement Wednesday that Bannon "lost his mind" when he was fired, and that "he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media."
BREAKING: Trump drops new statement, ripping into Bannon, arguing his former Chief Strategist “lost his mind.” pic.twitter.com/ozusZeoB7f— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) January 3, 2018
Trump Jr. tweeted: "Steve had the honor of working in the White House & serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege & turned that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President. Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist."
Steve had the honor of working in the White House & serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege & turned that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President. Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 3, 2018
Wolff said he was encouraged by Trump to take a "semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing," to conduct these interviews, but in a news briefing Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Wolff "never actually sat down with the president."
"This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House," she further stated.
Stephanie Grisham, communications director for the first lady, said in a statement that Wolff’s book is "clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section."
According to ABC News, during the presidential campaign, Trump had staff sign a non-disclosure agreement to refrain from such "disparaging comments," and Wednesday night, he sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon stating that he’d breached this agreement.
ABC News reported that the letter reads: "You [Bannon] have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, knowing that they would be included in Mr. Wolff’s book and publicity surrounding the marketing and sale of his book."
"[L]egal notice was issued today to Stephen K. Bannon, that his actions of communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients," Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder said in a statement. "Legal action is imminent."