‘Fire And Fury’ Publisher: Trump Cease-And-Desist ‘Flagrantly Unconstitutional’

on December 15, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

The CEO of Macmillan, the parent company of the publisher behind Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” on Monday said the company will not acquiesce to a demand from President Donald Trump’s lawyer to cease distributing the book.

In a memo to employees, obtained by TPM, Macmillan CEO John Sargent said the letter from Trump’s lawyer Charles Harder was “a clear effort by the President of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government.”

“That is something that no American court would order as it is flagrantly unconstitutional,” Sargent said.

He cited the Pentagon Papers case, which involved the leak of a secret Defense Department report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam, The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, a case which established the actual malice standard for libel claims, and The Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, a case where the Supreme Court ruled prior restraint unconstitutional.

Sargent said Harder’s cease-and-desist letter was “an attempt to achieve” prior restraint, or government action that prohibits certain kinds of speech or expression, and said the publisher will send a legal response to Trump later Monday.

“There is no ambiguity here. This is an underlying principle of our democracy. We cannot stand silent,” Sargent said. “We need to respond strongly for Michael Wolff and his book, but also for all authors and all their books, now and in the future. And as citizens we must demand that President Trump understand and abide by the First Amendment of our Constitution.”

Read Sargent’s memo: