Connect with us

One of Trump’s most devious tactics is how he tries to silence his critics



- Commentary

Every week seems to bring a new target for Trump’s wrath. He simply can’t let anything go. But when his grievances against his enemies are too severe simply to attack them in a series of hateful tweets, you can count on Trump to take it to the next level: the courtroom.

Most recently, Trump has vowed to seek revenge on BuzzFeed for publishing the Steele Dossier almost a year ago. Now, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is suing BuzzFeed for defamation.

BuzzFeed stands by its decision to publish the dossier. Katie Rayford, a BuzzFeed spokesperson, told AlterNet: “The dossier is, and continues to be, the subject of active investigations by Congress and intelligence agencies. It was presented to two successive presidents, and has been described in detail by news outlets around the world. Its interest to the public is obvious. This is not the first time Trump’s personal lawyer has attacked the free press, and we look forward to defending our First Amendment rights in court.”

Trump loves both suing and threatening lawsuits over any perceived slight, whether it’s an artist who depicted the president nude with a micropenis, or an analyst who (correctly) predicted the Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino would fail. The president has a long history of using bogus claims of libel and defamation to bully opponents and tie them up in court. The American Bar Association has called him a “libel bully,” but was afraid to make the claim public because its lawyers feared Trump might sue in retaliation. There’s even a nifty online counter tracking the number of hours since Trump last threatened a journalist or critic. According to the makers of the counter, he’s threatened to sue at least 45 times since the 1980s.

As outrageous as some of Trump’s claims are, being sued for defamation or libel is no laughing matter. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, not to mention the opportunity cost of time spent in court, plus the emotional strain and reputation damage that can occur during a complicated lawsuit. For someone as powerful as Trump, who can hand these burdens off to someone else, lawsuits are an easy way to threaten anyone who challenges him.

Here are some of the least credible and most obnoxious lawsuits Trump has followed through on in an effort to silence his opponents.


1. The Chicago Tribune

Back in 1984, Trump sued Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Gapp for a staggering $500 million after the writer mocked a proposed Trump building in the New York financial district. Gapp called the building plan unrealistic and “one of the silliest things anyone could inflict on New York or any other city”—and Trump was not having it.

The case was tossed out by a particularly sardonic judge, whose full statement is a delight to read. In Gapp’s defense, the building design was totally silly, as you can see below.

(Credit: Chicago Tribune)


2. Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien

In 2005, Trump sued his own biographer, Timothy O’Brien, for writing in TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald that the real estate mogul was worth only $150 to $250 million. Trump insisted he was worth at least $5 billion, and took the case to court. Seriously. A judge ultimately dismissed the case. After he lost, Trump bragged to the Washington Post: “I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees but they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make [O’Brien’s] life miserable, which I’m happy about.”

3. Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin 

In 2012, pageant contestant Sheena Monnin complained on Facebook that the Miss USA contest Trump oversaw was “fraudulent,” “trashy” and “rigged.” Trump sued her for $5 million in response and won an arbitration award. Trump attorney Michael Cohen later bragged that he and Trump had “destroyed” Monnin’s life.


4. The Daily Beast

Trump’s team sued the Daily Beast in 2015 after it published an article about Ivana Trump’s accusations of rape against her ex-husband. On that occasion, attorney Cohen, who headed many of these lawsuits, made it perfectly clear that the suit was intended to punish anyone who smeared Trump’s name.

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen told the Daily Beast. “So I’m warning you, tread very f—ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. You understand me?”

“You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up…for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet…you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it,” he said.


5. Union workers at Trump Hotel Las Vegas

In 2015, Trump sued the Culinary Union and Bartenders Union at his own Las Vegas hotel for printing “misleading” flyers that suggested Trump himself did not stay at Trump Hotel Las Vegas because the rooms weren’t luxurious enough. At the time, employees at the hotel were in the midst of efforts to unionize.

A union spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter: “This lawsuit is an effort to distract from the unionizing effort…There are over 500 workers who are fighting for justice and respect at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas.”

6. Univision


Trump’s long and well-publicized feud with Univision has resulted in threats of several lawsuits, including one against programming chief Alberto Ciurana for posting an Instagram with Trump’s face spliced next to Dylann Roof’s. So basically, Trump threatened to sue over a meme calling out his blatant racism.

It’s no wonder Univision’s lawyers called Trump “thin-skinned” in response. Their memorandum to dismiss the suit nails Trump’s tactics of intimidation perfectly: “There is a rich irony to Trump’s cry that he is the target of an effort to ‘suppress [his] right to free speech,’ when it is Trump himself—a candidate for president—who is attempting to invoke the coercive power of the courts to punish a citizen’s speech.”

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump considering withdraw from 68-year-old treaty with Japan: report



President Donald Trump has been privately talking about withdrawing from the postwar defense treaty with Japan, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Trump is telling confidants the treaty is unfair to the U.S. because it promises to help if Japan was ever attacked, but doesn't require Japan to come to America's defense, the sources told Bloomberg.

So far, the president hasn't taken any step toward pulling out of the treaty, which was signed in 1951, and administration officials insist that move would be highly unlikely.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Rep. Ted Lieu: Impeachment is coming — and so is a Democratic president



Donald Trump recently called “impeachment” a “dirty, filthy, disgusting word,” but his continued stonewalling of legitimate congressional oversight requests are moving more and more House Democrats to embrace that “filthy” concept. That was the very point made by Rep. Ted Lieu of California, a progressive Democrat who sits on the House Judiciary Committee during our recent conversation on “Salon Talks.” That committee would be the starting point for an actual impeachment inquiry of the president.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

New report targets 15 House Democrats who ‘deserve’ progressive primary challengers



As progressive candidates continue to announce their intentions to oust corporate Democrats, a new report names 15 House Democrats to unseat in primary challenges.

Published Monday by the left-leaning group RootsAction, the new report is entitled Bad Blues: Some of the House Democrats Who Deserve to Be 'Primaried.'

The list, the report notes, "is by no means exhaustive—only illustrative."

"There may well be a Democratic member of Congress near you not included here who serves corporate interests more than majority interests, or has simply grown tired or complacent in the never-ending struggles for social, racial, and economic justice as well as environmental sanity and peace," the report notes. "Perhaps you live in a district where voters are ready to be inspired by a progressive primary candidate because the Democrat in Congress is not up to the job."

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]


Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

Learn how you can help.