ABA Condemns President Trump’s Demand to Halt Publication of Wolff Book

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Charles Harder, a lawyer for President Trump, sent a letter to Henry Holt & Co. and author Michael Wolff on behalf of the president demanding that author and publisher immediately “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of a forthcoming book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, according ABC News, which published the letter.

The book, written by Wolff, had been scheduled to be released by Holt next week but the publisher announced on Thursday, January 4, that it would release the book the next day.

In response to this unprecedented and dangerous attempt by President Trump to stop publication of a book, ABA CEO Oren Teicher issued the following statement on behalf of ABA and its membership:

“For a sitting president to threaten legal action in an attempt to stop publication of a book is an appalling abuse of executive power. We believe this sort of attempted prior restraint sets a dangerous precedent, and, if successful, would represent a chilling effect on free speech. Not only would it would deter authors and publishers from publishing future books about this president (and any future sitting president), it would also directly undercut our nation’s cultural and political legacy of a vigorous exchange and debate of ideas, the hallmark of a healthy democracy.

“ABA staunchly defends the freedom of publishers to publish and sell the titles they deem appropriate, whether it is a book from a controversial author, or whether it is about a sitting president. The First Amendment exists to protect readers from exactly this kind of over-reach.”

Teicher added that ABA applauds Holt’s decision to publish the book early in the face of Trump’s threats.

In the letter, Harder wrote: “We are investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Trump.” Harder then said he is looking into possible defamation of Trump and his family and invasion of privacy, ABC News reported. The lawyer also accused the author of actual malice, defined as reckless disregard for the truth.