President Donald Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon late Wednesday, warning that statements he made to a journalist about Trump and the first family violated the terms of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) he signed during the campaign.
The letter was prompted by the publication of excerpts of Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book about the Trump administration, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which appeared Wednesday in New York Magazine. The piece relates Bannon deriding the president’s intelligence and calling Donald Trump Jr. “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for meeting with Kremlin-aligned operatives during the campaign.
“On behalf of our clients, legal 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 client,” Trump attorney Charles Harder said in a statement.
“Legal action is imminent,” he added.
The cease-and-desist letter says that the president will seek monetary damages should Bannon continue cooperating with Wolff.
Harder previously represented first lady Melania Trump in a defamation lawsuit against the Daily Mail, which settled in April 2017. He also directed Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media, for which he secured a $115 million award, bankrupting Gawker’s digital media empire.
Trump has long required associates to sign NDAs as a condition of their employment. Such agreements were executed with most members of the Trump campaign, including Bannon. The NDAs bind Trump’s aides to secrecy, prohibiting them from disseminating “confidential information” about the president. A standard Trump NDA gives “confidential information” a broad definition, encompassing practically any political, financial, or personal information the president wishes to keep private.
The agreements also forbid Trump confidants from making disparaging comments about the president, his family, or his businesses.
An NDA effectively killed former Trump campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski’s $1.2 million book deal with HarperCollins. The publisher terminated a tentative agreement with Lewandowski after he refused to yield his agreement with the campaign.
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