An attorney representing the president sent a letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker this week, claiming the outlet’s reporting related to Trump does not adhere to the journalistic standards it portends to uphold – but is focused, rather, on trying to take down the president. The claims refer to video footage from Project Veritas, where a whistleblower alleges that coverage is influenced by Zucker’s purported bias against the president.
“Never in the history of this country has a president been the subject of such a sustained barrage of unfair, unfounded, unethical and unlawful attacks by so-called ‘mainstream’ news, as the current situation,” Charles Harder wrote in his letter.
Trump’s attorney claims CNN’s actions violate the Lanham Act, which provides for a system of trademark protection because they are misrepresenting their coverage to the public and advertisers (specifically referencing CNN’s claims that it is “the most trusted source in news”).
The letter notes that Trump intends to file legal action against CNN, and will seek compensatory, treble and punitive damages, reimbursement of legal costs and injunctive relief.
A spokesperson for CNN called the threat "nothing more than a desperate PR stunt" that "doesn't merit a response."
The move could spell more trouble for AT&T, which acquired CNN’s parent company Time Warner for $85 billion in June of last year. AT&T is currently negotiating with activist investors who are pushing for change amid lackluster performance.
During a rally in Dallas on Thursday night, the president went after “fake news” media. He specifically called out CNN for saying Texas was “in play” during the 2016 election, a state that Trump won. He also went after the network for comments it made to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden – amid the president’s criticisms of his business dealings in Ukraine while his father was in office.
Harder has served as lead counsel on previous cases for both the president and the first lady. He has also represented a number of other high-profile celebrities, including actors Bradley Cooper and Jude Law, as well as actresses Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock.