Trump Lawyer Sends Bannon 'Cease and Desist' Letter, Warns 'Legal Action Is Imminent'

Steve Bannon
Steve Bannon / Getty Images
January 4, 2018

A lawyer for President Donald Trump sent a "cease and desist" letter to Steve Bannon on Wednesday, accusing the former White House chief strategist of violating an agreement that he signed during the 2016 presidential campaign by disclosing confidential information and disparaging Trump or his family.

The letter, first reported by ABC News, came after excerpts of a forthcoming book by journalist Michael Wolff were published earlier on Wednesday, revealing that Bannon, who served as the Trump campaign's chief executive, criticized Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Bannon called Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian operatives in Trump Tower in 2016, which Kushner also attended, both "treasonous" and "unpatriotic," according to the excerpts.

"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," Trump's lawyer, Charles Harder, wrote in the letter.

During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump had his campaign staff sign a non-disclosure agreement, which required all staff to refrain from any disparaging comments against Trump, his family, the campaign, or the Trump Organization, according to ABC News.

"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," Harder's letter said. "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."

Harder then demanded that Bannon "cease and desist" from disclosing any more confidential information and from making disparaging comments against Trump or his family.

"Mr. Trump and the Company hereby demand that you cease and desist from any and all further disclosure of Confidential Information, disparagement of Mr. Trump, his family members, his or their companies, and/or the Company, and communication with the media, including but not limited to Mr. Wolff and any and all other journalists, reports, authors, and bloggers," the letter said.

Trump castigated Bannon after the excerpts of Wolff's book went public.

"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency," Trump said in a statement. "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."

"Steve doesn't represent my base—he's only in it for himself," Trump added. "Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me any only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books."

The White House communications staff also pushed back against the claims made in Wolff's book, calling the work "trashy tabloid fiction" that "exposes their sad, desperate attempts at relevancy."

Wolff's book claims that Trump eats McDonald's because he is afraid of being poisoned, that he did not know who former Speaker of the House John Boehner was as late as 2016, and that Melania Trump broke down in tears on election night because she did not want her husband to win.

In his letter, Harder said that he and Trump reserve the right to take legal action if Bannon does not comply with its demands.

"Mr. Trump and the Company retain all rights to pursue legal action against you," Harder wrote. "Should that occur, they would bring all available causes of action and seek all available legal and equitable remedies, including monetary damages, to the maximum extent permitted by law."

"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," the letter added, although no dollar amount was disclosed.

Harder, of the firm Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP, released a statement along with the letter, warning that "legal action is imminent."

"This law firm represents President Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.," the statement said. "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."