Following the release of an extraordinary statement by President Donald Trump directed at former White House strategist Stephen Bannon, Trump attorney Charles J. Harder of the firm Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP released a statement stating: "This law firm represents President Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. On behalf of our clients, legal notice was issued today to Stephen K. Bannon, that his actions of communicating with author Michael Wolff regarding an upcoming book give rise to numerous legal claims including defamation by libel and slander, and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients. Legal action is imminent."
These developments came after the release of excerpts of author Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book about the Trump administration that attributed Bannon’s disparaging remarks about the president and Donald Trump Jr.
Attorney Harder wrote in his statement, "You [Bannon] have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company, knowing that they would be included in Mr. Wolff’s book and publicity surrounding the marketing and sale of his book."
The “Agreement” to which Harder referred was a non-disclosure agreement which required all White House staff, according to campaign sources, to refrain from disparaging comments against the candidate, his family, or Trump’s campaign and political organization. So far, Bannon himself has been mum about the controversy.
Trump attorney Harder goes on to say, "Remedies for your breach of the agreement include but are not limited to monetary damages, injunctive relief and all other remedies available at law and equity.” No dollar amount was disclosed.
Citing Paragraph 8 of the Agreement, the letter declares: "Consent to Injunction. A breach of any of your promises or agreements under this agreement will cause the Company, Mr. Trump and each other Trump Person irreparable harm. Accordingly, to the extent permitted by law, and without waiving any other rights or remedies against you at law or in equity, you hereby consent to the entry of any order, without prior notice to you, temporarily or permanently enjoining you from violating any of the terms, covenants, agreements or provisions of this agreement on your part to be performed or observed. Such consent is intended to apply to an injunction of any breach or threatened breach."
As to "Damages and Other Remedies," the letter cites the Agreement: "Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, each Trump Person will be entitled to all remedies available at law and equity, including but not limited to monetary damages, in the event of your breach of this agreement. Nothing contained in this agreement will constitute a waiver of any Trump Person’s remedies at law or in equity, all of which are expressly reserved."
Near the end of the letter to Bannon, Harder wrote, "Further, as the prevailing party in any litigation arising out of your breach of the Agreement, Mr. Trump and the Company will be entitled to 'an award of reasonable legal fees and costs."
Before the release of the letter, Trump’s statement as released by the White House said that when Bannon was fired in August "he not only lost his job, he lost his mind." The president was responding to Bannon’s strident criticism of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort for meeting with several Russians who allegedly offering information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Bannon’s comments are found in excerpts from Michael Wolff's new book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."
In Wednesday’s statement from the White House, Trump wrote:
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”
In a response to a listener, Bannon said on Breitbart News' SiriusXM show on Wednesday: "The president of the United States is a great man. You know I support him, day in and day out, whether going through the country giving the Trump miracle speech or on the show or on the website."
On Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that Bannon had "squandered" the privilege of working at the White House and "serving the country." Trump Jr. wrote that Bannon had turned the opportunity into a "nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying and undermining the President. Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist."
Steve had the honor of working in the White House & serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege & turned that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President. Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 3, 2018
On Fox News Channel, host Neil Cavuto interviewed former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about the controversy. When Cavuto asked Gingrich, "What's going on?" Gingrich answered, "I think, Neil, first of all, Bannon has an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and the news media, of course, builds it up, because it's exactly, in the age of the Kardashians, the kind of nonsense that they love to fill time and space with. So, they can run around and think about that, as opposed to the largest tax cut in history, or the most deregulation in history, or the best economic growth in more than 10 years."
When Cavuto said, "But didn't Bannon feed this beat, Newt, by saying this outlandish stuff?" Gingrich answered, "Well, look, I think that Bannon thinks he's extraordinarily important. But the fact is, Trump had won the nomination without Bannon. Trump would have won the presidency without Bannon. And Trump has governed without Bannon. So I think there's an exaggerated sense of who Steve is.
"And I think, remember, this is a guy who got fired. So you have a guy who has been fired who is trying to claim a bunch of things, which he apparently did not claim at the time. And I think you have to just say, you know, it's noise. It has nothing to do with -- the things that matter to America and the things that matter to the American people have no relationship to the kind of noise that we're going to spend all day today with.
"And luckily for the president, he's really come to distinguish between the things that matter and the things that don't. The meeting this weekend at Camp David matters with the Republican leadership. Steve Bannon saying a bunch of junk doesn't really matter in the long run. It will disappear."