Some major publishing houses have passed on a new book being proposed by Donald Trump Jr. because they believe that there’s limited appetite for what’s being pitched as a defense of his father’s controversial tenure as president, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
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Another factor in the chilly reception Trump Jr. has received from some publishers: The legal scrutiny he also faces from the federal investigation of Russian collusion into the 2016 campaign and whether his father obstructed the FBI’s probe, these people say.
These people, who spoke to FOX Business on the condition of anonymity and under the condition that the names of the publishing houses not be revealed, say at least two major publishers summarily rejected Trump Jr.’s book in recent days without even making a low-ball bid on an advance.
The book, as described in conversations between Trump Jr. and publishing houses, is being pitched as a defense of his father’s record where he would discuss the president’s approach to politics and how the businessman-turned-politician was able to upend the political landscape, these people say. It’s unclear how much Trump Jr. would delve into the legal morass involving his dad and the probe by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, another factor that concerned the publishers.
One person with knowledge of a major publisher’s thinking said: “There was basically no interest in a book that’s basically a defense of daddy book when you’re under federal investigation yourself.”
Alan Futerfas, an attorney for Trump Jr., declined comment.
But that doesn’t mean Trump Jr. won’t be able to find a publisher, and that his book will not have an audience. In fact, other publishing executives say there is still strong demand for positive books about Trump despite the president’s current legal problems that have made best sellers out of authors writing about the seedier side of Trump.
These publishing executives point to the strong sales generated by pro-Trump books written by his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and GOP consultant David Bossie titled, “Let Trump Be Trump,” as well as “Trump’s America,” written by former GOP House speaker Newt Gingrich.
Despite the president’s relatively low approval ratings, he still maintains a cult appeal with his most ardent followers. That appeal translates to authors who write glowingly about him, these publishers say.
Trump Jr. could easily sell between 150,000 and 300,000 books, according to one publisher, more than enough to repay an advance of between $500,000 and $1 million.
“Donald Jr. should sell at least as many books as those guys or more,” said one person with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Someone is going to buy his proposal, the question is how much will they pay given the legal issues he faces.”
Still, the cool reception for a Trump Jr. book deal among some publishers is another indication of the financial toll that the probe of alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election by the special prosecutor has taken on people that have come under scrutiny. Many subjects of the investigation have complained that they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees without evidence that they’ve done anything wrong.
Others have complained the taint of the probe has hurt their private business dealings. FOX Business has reported that a similar pro-Trump book proposed by the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been derailed over similar concern.
Among other matters, Mueller’s office is investigating a meeting Trump Jr. took with a Russian operative promising dirt on his dad’s 2016 presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton. At the time, Trump Jr. was a key member of his father’s presidential campaign. He had said that he’s done nothing wrong; his father has repeatedly described the investigation as a “witch hunt.” A spokesman for Mueller had no comment.
Some publishers worry that it will be difficult to sell a book by an author who might face legal charges. “The thinking is if he’s going to be charged, you have just wasted your advance money,” said one person with direct knowledge of the matter.
The Mueller probe appears to be focusing on several incidents of possible Russian collusion into the 2016 campaign, and whether President Trump obstructed an FBI investigation into the matter by firing James Comey as FBI chief last year. Clinton was a foe of Russian President Valdimir Putin, while Trump was looking for closer relations with Russia.
During the campaign, Trump’s private business, the Trump Organization, was also looking for deals in the old Soviet Union. These dealings are also being probed by the special prosecutor, according to people who have been interviewed by Mueller’s team. Trump Jr. was a senior executive inside the Trump Organization before he and his brother, Eric, took full control with his father in the White House.
More important to Trump Jr. and his ability to land a book deal is that the Mueller investigation appears to be focusing on a July 2016 meeting between Trump Jr., some campaign officials and a Russian operative. Trump Jr., then a key member of the campaign, was allegedly enticed to attend a private sit-down with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Clinton. Aiding efforts of foreign nationals to sway a U.S. election could be a criminal offense.
Also attending the meeting was Trump’s son-in-law, campaign aide and future senior adviser Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chief Paul Manafort, who would soon leave the campaign and be charged with money laundering by the special counsel. Manafort maintains his innocence in this matter. Trump Jr. has said the meeting produced nothing of substance and it wasn’t his intention to collude with Russians looking to interfere in the election.
Just this weekend, a memo revealed that the president dictated a misleading statement to the media when details of the meeting first broke last year; the statement suggested that Trump Jr.’s meeting was actually intended to discuss adoption matters, not negative information on Clinton. Mueller is investigating the details surrounding the statement as part of the probe into obstruction of justice.
Meanwhile, the British tabloid The Daily Mail has quoted sources speculating that Trump Jr. could fetch an advance of $12 million for a “tell all” book that includes details about his relationship with his father and his own recent divorce.
But people with knowledge of the matter say Trump Jr. is pitching a more prosaic tome, and it is unclear how much, if any detail Trump Jr. is willing to provide on the issue that has captured headlines, and upended his father’s first year-plus in office: the Mueller probe.
When publishers have questioned Trump Jr. about the investigation, he attempted to downplay its significance, these people add. He told publishers that he had no time to collude when he was working on the campaign, and considered the matter a non-issue, these people add. He also said he had no intent to collude with Russian operatives, these people say.
Trump Jr. is said to have appeared exasperated that the probe is still continuing amid the absence of evidence from Mueller that Trump or his campaign staff colluded with Russian nationals during the election.
“He appeared flabbergasted that we’re still talking about this stuff,” says one person with knowledge of Trump Jr.’s explanation to publishing executives.