Donald Trump Sues Art Of The Deal Ghostwriter For Denouncing Him, Demands Returns Of All Royalties

From the New Yorker:

When Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump’s ghostwriter for his 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal,” decided to tell the public about his concerns that Trump isn’t fit to serve as President, his main worry was that Trump, who is famously litigious, would threaten to take legal action against him. Schwartz’s premonition has proved correct.

On Monday, July 18th, the day that this magazine published my interview with Schwartz, and hours after Schwartz appeared on “Good Morning America” to voice his concerns about Trump’s “impulsive and self-centered” character, Jason D. Greenblatt, the general counsel and vice-president of the Trump Organization, issued a threatening cease-and-desist letter to Schwartz.

In it, Greenblatt accuses Schwartz—who has likened his writing of the flattering book to putting “lipstick on the pig” —of making “defamatory statements” about the Republican nominee and claiming that he, not Trump, wrote the book, “thereby exposing” himself to “liability for damages and other tortious harm.”

Greenblatt demands that Schwartz send “a certified check made payable to Mr. Trump” for all of the royalties he had earned on the book, along with Schwartz’s half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance. (The memoir has sold approximately a million copies, earning Trump and Schwartz each several million dollars.)

Greenblatt also orders Schwartz to issue “a written statement retracting your defamatory statements,” and to offer written assurances that he will not “generate or disseminate” any further “baseless accusations” about Trump.

Schwartz appeared on the Bill Maher show last night to talk about the lawsuit. Start at 22:00 below. A copy of the letter from Trump’s attorney is at the link above.

  • Philly Mike

    We all saw this coming.

  • bambinoitaliano

    Declare bankruptcy and sue for defamation. It’s the orange crush schtick since his temper tantrum 2.

  • crewman

    Not surprising. This perfectly fits Trumps pattern of using the legal system to bully people. A true autobiography of Trump would be more like “How to Bully People Into Getting What You Want”.

    • Blake Jordan

      He abuses the legal system just like the WBC…

    • lymis

      This fact, among dozens of others, is why people should be terrified of the idea of letting this man nominate Supreme Court Justices, especially if he has a Senate majority to go along with it.

  • Ernest Endevor

    He was interviewed pre-convention last night by Chris Hayes and was very impressive, I thought. Talk about an act of redemption, the man is not going to be driven mad by Trump’s lawyers.

  • Rex

    You don’t have to be psychic to predict that Trump is going to sue you.

  • dcurlee

    But yet again it’s fine for Trump to say whatever he wants Jez

  • Todd20036

    Typical Drumpf. I should feel sorry for this guy, but heck, you dance with the devil, you’re going to get burned.

    • Michael Rush

      After this Tony Scwartz spent years on a spiritual search and wrote this

      What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America

      At the height of his career as a journalist, Tony Schwartz hit an unexpected wall. Why did success suddenly feel so empty? How could he add richer meaning to his everyday life? What guides could he trust on the road to wisdom?,204,203,200_.jpg

      • pch1013

        He is also donating all of his 2016 royalties to charities like Human Rights Watch, the National Immigration Law Center, etc.

  • sonoitabear

    Schwartz needs to demand that tRUMP be deposed IN PERSON and, if a lawsuit proceeds, that tRUMP be required to testify IN PERSON…

    • CB

      That would be a standard part of the discovery process. He would have to appear.

      • Chucktech

        Ah, but this is The Donald we’re talking about. I’m sure they’ll let him just phone it in…

    • Soren456

      There is no lawsuit, thus no deposition and no discovery; there is merely a cease-and-desist letter, bearing a threat. The headline here is typically careless.

      Unless there were a “prenuptial” agreement between the parties, Schwartz is free to state his opinion. And since the letter mentions no such previous agreement (and it would) Trump has no genuine case.

      Trump’s tactic is to threaten to bleed Schwartz of funds by legal maneuvering, since Trump is almost sure not to prevail.

      If it came to it, a defense fund for Schwartz would definitely get my donation.

  • Blake Jordan

    Hair fuhrer is desperate for money!!!

  • Rex

    Let me see if I understand this,
    Trump speaks his mind and everyone admires him for it.
    Schwartz speaks his mind and he’s threatened with legal action.
    Nope, I don’t understand it.

    • Todd20036

      You are free to speak your mind of anything complimentary of Drumpf or his family. You can compliment his physique, his clothes, his business acumen, his family, his hot daughter, his finesse with women, his University…

      Yup, you are free to give any sort of compliment you like.

      • RoFaWh

        His tiny hands and (reputedly) even more minuscule wee-wee are infinitely handsome and admirable, only losers can’t see that.

      • ChrisInKansas

        How about something like:

        “Trump is the perfect specimen of a narcissist. No other human being on the face of the earth exemplifies a complete sociopath like Donald Trump does.”

        • Rrhain

          He actually admires that. Have you forgotten the, “I could shoot somebody and they’d still vote for me” quip?

    • pch1013

      Also: Trump says he wrote the book, but he still gave half its royalties to someone else.

      • tominsf

        He’s just generous to strangers.

        Makes you think of that backroom raid scene in Casablanca:

        Renault: I am shocked- shocked- to find that gambling is going on in here!Croupier: [hands Renault money] Your winnings, sir.

    • crewman

      It has perfect internal consistency if you consider Trump is a narcissist. Everything in the world revolves around Trump. Everything is judged by its effect on Trump. Trump saying harsh things about others? It’s just speaking the honest truth. Someone saying something unflattering about Trump? Utterly inexcusable and demanding the harshest punishment available to Trump to hurt that person.

      • KarenAtFOH

        Any criticism is followed by screams of disloyalty, and claims that the person would be nothing were it not for Trump’s generosity, brilliance, etc.

    • NancyP

      Schwartz has written a mea culpa about working for Trump, but I would be willing to bet that Schwartz may benefit from the publicity generated by Trump’s lawsuit – more contracts?

    • theo775

      Yup. Want to trip Trump up? The right loves tort reform. Hillary should embrace it and use it against Trump.

  • margaretpoa

    I gotta give Greenblatt props… He knew Trump would sue him and went pubic anyway.

    • Dennis

      Schwartz, not Greenblatt

  • How very Presidential!

  • DaveW

    Real consequences of this. Our “reporters” are already sell outs, having given trump the limelight he needed to get this far in exchange for ratings.

    Add fear of litigation and the stupid class (the 90%?) will never get the de-ignorintation they so desperately need to save the world from what is looking very likely to happen in November

  • penpal

    Trumpet and his shit brands send me running in the other direction.

  • Michael Rush

    Trump sued another author for 5 BILLION

    In 2011, an appellate court upheld a New Jersey Superior Court judge’s decision dismissing Trump’s $5 billion defamation lawsuit against author Timothy L. O’Brien, who had reported in his book, TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald (2005), that Trump’s true net worth was really between $150 and $250 million. Trump had reportedly told O’Brien he was worth billions and, in 2005, had publicly stated such.Trump said that the author’s alleged underestimation of his net worth was motivated by malice and had cost him business deals and damage to his reputation.The appellate court, however, ruled against Trump, citing the consistency of O’Brien’s three confidential sources.

    • Menergy

      Thanks for the extra background info. Let’s hope history repeats itself in favor of Schwartz and Greenblatt!

    • Gustav2

      Funny, $25 million is what she got in the divorce.

  • WebSlinger

    I am sure this man talked with attorneys and they were also talking to him before he uttered a word…

  • Stev84

    Trump has a long, long history of suing people who criticized or exposed him. Especially people who reported his correct (relatively low) net worth. Once he got someone fired who correctly predicted that one of his casinos would go bankrupt.

    Trump could be best friends with Erdogan

    • CB

      He also has a long history of losing those suits.

    • ByronK

      I was just thinking the same thing. I’m sure Trump wouldn’t blink twice if he could have dissenting journalists jailed. No wonder he is yapping about not wanting to tell Turkey what to do – he’s actually a Erdogan fan.

    • The_Wretched

      Huffpo has an article a Putin advisor floating a trial baloon – that Trump wouldn’t defend a NATO ally if Russia invaded them. That shit’s scary.

    • Chuck in NYC

      And Greenblatt is the willing henchman who files the lawsuits.

      • Nic Peterson

        His fees are probably paid in full as submitted. Can you imagine how fast Drumph would implode if he screwed any of his lawyers?

  • medaka

    His coming out (as it were) about putting lipstick on The Pig first appeared here:

    Well worth the read, if you haven’t already.

  • Chris Davis

    These shows never give anyone enough time to speak. So annoying.

  • Herald

    Trump is again showing his true self, and this petty, vindictive action reveals just how true Tony Schwartz’s comments are.

    • tcinsf

      right? If we were talking about anyone else, it would be a prime example of drawing fire … but rules don’t apply to Trump, the GOP, and 25-40% of this idiot country supporting him.

    • RoFaWh

      If Schwartz’s criticisms were false, any ordinary person subject to them would simply smile, shrug a little, and laugh, then move on to the next subject of discussion. But the Orange One, with his famously thin skin? Oh, no! Can’t have the OO criticized!

  • Sk3ptic

    Good luck with that, Bankruptcy Donnie. Good luck with that.

  • bryan

    Another example that El Trumpo and his followers do not believe in free speech …

  • marshlc

    So, Trump says Schwartz didn’t write the book, and has to stop saying he did. He also has to give back all the money (including half the advance) he got for …. um, for not writing the book.

    • Gigi


      • Roger

        Ins´t Drumpf a most generous person? he paid the advance AND years of royalties to a person who had nothing to do with his book. Just because he felt like giving away all that money. Bless his orange heart.

    • Rebecca Gardner

      Yeah, I caught that too and was like, What?

  • What did he expect? I’m sure he must be prepared for this.

  • Gigi

    What about the author’s right to free speech? Why is Trump trying to silence him?

    • RoFaWh

      The American constitutional guarantee of free speech applies only to governmental entities: the US itself, the individual states, and all local governments. Not to private actions.

      • Gigi

        Ya, I get that. I was mimicking the rubes like Milo Yiannopoulos who think they’re being “silenced” when sites like Twitter refuse to give them a free platform from which to spew their bullshit.

  • pch1013

    I can’t wait for the debates. Can. Not. Wait.

    Within five minutes (once he’s done boasting about poll numbers) he will be reduced to shrieking “SHUP UP” at Hillary.

    • lymis

      I’ll be surprised if there’s not “a” debate. I won’t be surprised if there are not more than one.
      If Trump looks as bad as I expect him to look after the first one, he’ll double down on his “the media is unfair to me” idea and cancel the rest. He certainly won’t allow himself to look stupid on air multiple times.

      • Soren456

        I’d be surprised if there were a debate at all—and by “debate” I mean a real back-and-forth on given issues, with rules clearly stated.

        Out on a limb, I’d bet that Clinton and Trump will never share a stage, let alone an exchange, because Trump is a coward and will find a way to avoid it—while blaming Clinton, of course.


    So presidential.

  • Michael Rush


    Donald Trump is withdrawing his lawsuit against television host and comedian Bill Maher seeking $5 million that Maher said he would give to charity, in a seemingly facetious offer, if Trump could prove he was not the son of an orangutan.

  • tcinsf

    If there is a confidentiality agreement, there may be a problem for Schwartz … but I should the public interest in the background of a presidential candidate might even trump (giggle) a confidentiality agreement.

    • CB

      But then he should be suing for breach of contract, rather than defamation. And drumpf would have to demonstrate harm. In either case, the burden of proof is on drumpf. The chance of his showing loss based solely on Schwartz’s actions is remote at best,

      • tcinsf

        True, but you know, I never really put much weight in a news report that says he’s suing for “defamation.” Most reporters don’t really know the difference between various causes of action and they probably haven’t read the complaint, there could be multiple causes of action, AND BOC is a lot easier to win the defamation.
        Edit. Good confidentiality agreements have liquidated damages clauses so proof of damages isn’t an issue.

      • lymis

        Not a lawyer, but it also seems that he should be suing for new damages, rather than for the return of royalties and the fees the author was paid.

        He wrote the book as contracted, and it manifestly was done well enough to make it a bestseller.

  • Skokieguy [Larry]

    And remember Trump wants to change the laws to make it easier to sue the press.

    But he wants to roll back regulations on business to make it harder for customers to sue business, doctors, claims about environmental damage, etc. etc.

    • Trump can change all the laws that he so desires on Defamation laws. However the Supreme Court has to overturn one of the foundations of 1st Amendment law in modern society, (New York Times vs Sullivan (1964) in order that to happen. It is sort of like overturning Griswold vs. Connecticut (1965). There has to be very strong bedrock decision in order to make that happened.

      Given how the Conservatives on the court write pretty badly thought out decisions, (Citizens United Decision) I doubt they can make a viable replacement for a cornerstone of 1st Amendment law that has work incredibly well in US modern society..

      The most likely scenario is no matter the make up of the US Supreme Court, they will not change New York Times vs. Sullivan (1964) Politicians will still have a very high to almost impossible bar to cross to win a defamation lawsuit…

      • Skokieguy [Larry]

        I don’t disagree. Similarly, Trump’s Muslim ban would have a hard time passing Supreme Court scrutiny. But if (god forbid) he wins, the laws that might pass are in force until challenged and that takes time and has to wend its way till it gets to the Supreme Court to be overturned. I agree that it would be.

        • SoCalGal20

          And he could just pack the court with his ‘yes’ men if he wanted to. Thomas has no backbone and go along with whatever.

  • “a written statement retracting your defamatory statements,”

    Obviously this genius VP didn’t read New York Times vs. Sullivan (1964).

  • Dreaming Vertebrate

    One again the world sees how paper thin the Donald’s orange skin really is.
    Can’t take the heat, you have no business seeking the Oval Office.

  • AdamTh

    Trump simply can not stand for anyone to disagree with him… must be why he’s on wife #3.

  • bkmn

    I hope a very good lawyer is interested in doing some pro bono work for Mr. Schwartz.

  • JNK

    I am starting to get the shakes thinking of Trump as president. Oh the humanity! We must not allow this man anywhere near the Oval Office. He now says he would not defend Nato against a Russian attack. I believe Trump greatly admires the strongman Putin, and wants to follow in his footsteps.

  • Misutaa Roboto

    Note how seriously Schwartz takes this issue. And he’s right. Trump is obviously a psychopath and dangerous, and Schwartz seems desperate to make Maher and the panel understand that this is not just a joke candidacy. There’s a dangerously high probability that the next commander in chief of our military will be someone with no capacity for empathy, no compunctions about bullying, lying and manipulation, and a tendency towards narcissistic rage at any perceived slight. Trump openly admires people like Kim Jong-un for eliminating their political rivals, has threatened his own rival with prison in response to her criticism of him, and has people on her staff calling for Hillary Clinton to face a firing squad.

    I think some people have gotten so used to overblown rhetoric that they don’t recognize actual fascism when it’s staring them in the face. In the meantime, we have an overabundance of purity-signaling third-party-voting complacent idiots who are more concerned with how their vote makes them feel than with protecting the country they live in from ruin.

    • JNK

      I have become utterly disgusted with the Bernie or bust folks. They are all about vanity and feels and seem completely incapableof conceptualizing the consequences of their actions.

      Yes. I wanted Bernie to win, but he did not. Voting 3rd party and facilitating a Trump presidency in NO WAY advances the progressive cause. If you care only about the Supreme Court that will have immeasurable impact for decades to come, how can you vote 3rd party?

      • Ninja0980

        Because it will send a message or some other crap like that.

    • billbear1961

      Terrific post–beautiful!!

    • Chucktech

      Don’t leave out that Trump seems to be utterly incapable of devoting anything that resembles “undivided attention” to any issue or situation that will inevitably arise during a presidential administration. That’s very scary.

    • Jean-Marc in Canada

      It bears reposting……

  • Sean

    But but… freedom of speech? Oh right that doesn’t apply to Americans who refuse to bow down to das Fuhrer.

    He has no case. Schwartz can say whatever he wants about a book he wrote & partially owns.

  • GayOldLady

    Since this guy didn’t sign a confidentiality agreement, I’d say Trump is screwed. Yesterday Trump said this guy didn’t write the book, SO WHY HAS HE BEEN RECEIVING ROYALTIES? Dumb Trump. When someone speaks the truth of him he sues! What a thin skinned rat.

  • Any lawyers or law nerds want to weigh in? I understand a threat of a lawsuit can be effective to get someone to back down or risk going broke fighting it (regardless of “truth”) but as Trump is a public figure and major political candidate, isn’t libel difficult to prove? The things said about Hillary are libelous and apparently that’s ok.

    • Natty Enquirer

      Defamation against a public figure requires “actual malice,” a term-of-art which means either knowing the statement is false or publishing it with a reckless disregard for its truth or falsity. Moreover, saying that Donald Trump is a nasty sociopath is obviously an opinion coming from a writer (and not a licensed physician). Opinions are protected speech.

  • Adam

    A cease-and-desist letter is not a lawsuit, so the title to this is inaccurate. He was threatened with a lawsuit if he keeps talking.

    • Corsair Tact

      Your pedantic assertion is correct.

      • Adam

        It matters tho especially since it’s the title.

  • billbear1961

    Thank you for standing up to him!

    How LONG will this country tremble under this BULLY’S thumb–or HEEL?!

    When will the media stand up to him and expose him for what he so obviously IS–a bully, a hatemonger, a liar and a SCAM ARTIST?!

  • KarenAtFOH

    So presidential… NOT

  • Natty Enquirer

    Joe, do you know the difference between a demand letter and a lawsuit?

  • Jack Thomas

    Are we sure Trump isn’t a Scientologist? He seems awfully litigous, just like they are.

    • andrew

      Trump has no core beliefs, not even crazy ones like Scientology. Trumps only concerns are what advances the Kingdom of Trump.

  • StraightGrandmother

    You know what we need?
    We need a public service law firm that pledges to defend you at no charge against Donal Trump Lawsuits.

    When Donal Trump sues the little people in order to intimidate them, this law firm steps up and says, “No problem we’ll defend you.”

  • Queequeg

    Just an indication of how life would look under a Trump presidency, or is the correct term dictatorship? He would persecute anyone who disagrees with him, to the fullest extent that he could. Yet people are stupid enough to support him.

  • edrex

    and people worry that a Clinton admin. would be drama and scandal filled?

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    If I were Tony Schwartz, I’d double down, hell triple down, on calling Trump out. Trump sues everyone on a whim, this would be no exception. I dare say, bring it on Mr. Trump and remember, in a court of law, all the dirty laundry can be aired……even the dirty laundry of skeletons in those gold guilded closets.

  • Octavio

    Joe. Thanks for the embedded video link. I was unaware Maher was doing convention coverage shows. This was one of the few times I’ve watching him worthwhile. If you hadn’t posted this I would have missed it. Thanks again.

  • coram nobis

    Hey kids! Let’s play “Fun With Civil Procedure!” It’s not a one-way street, your lawyer can counter-sue for abuse of process, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress (always tack that one on), laches, equitable estoppel and anything defamatory the Plaintiff says about you!

    What’s that? Yes, Janey, you can have remedies! Special damages — that’s what your nice lawyer would charge, plus general damages and punitive damages! Yaaay! What’s that? Yes, up to nine times the total damages! You’re good at math, Melanie!

  • RainbowPhoenix

    I’ve never heard anything about Swartz signing a non-disclosure agreement, which means he can probably countersue for malicious prosecution.

  • CharlestonDave

    The response of Schwartz’ lawyer to the attempted intimidation by Trump’s lawyer has been appended to the New Yorker article. It’s a fine read. Check it out here:

  • greenmanTN

    Joy Reid is a fucking treasure!

  • LesbianTippingHabits

    The real question about Donald Trump: His tipping habits.

  • JohnInCA

    So we’re supposed to believe this guy got half the advance, and has been receiving royalties, but wasn’t actually Trump’s ghostwriter for it?

  • andrew

    Schwatz is the pig who put lipstick on the pig Trump, for big bucks. Enjoy watching these two pigs fighting it out in the mud.