15 Times Donald Trump Threatened To Sue During The 2016 Election
This presidential election's Republican nominee is no stranger to courtrooms. According to a report by USA Today, Donald Trump has been involved with thousands of lawsuits — at least 4,000, to be exact. USA Today deemed this number "unprecedented," saying, "No candidate of a major party has had anything approaching the number of Trump’s courtroom entanglements." While Trump has been the defendant in 1,460 of these case, it's evident from the 1,900 lawsuits he's filed that he's quite a fan of suing people. Among the grievances behind his filings are charges of defamation by the media, disputes against the government regarding unpaid taxes, and contract disputes. And that's only scratching the surface.
In addition to actually pursuing legal action, Trump also enjoys threatening to do so but not following through. Instead of analyzing every instance he's done this over his past 30 years in business, I'll focus on the past year and a half of his time on the campaign trail. His targets during this time have included everyone and everything, from his political opponents to newspapers to nightclubs to musicians to, most recently, women who have accused him of sexual assault. Out of the 15 examples listed below, the presidential hopeful has only filed one of the threatened lawsuits.
Donald Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015 with a speech describing Mexican immigrants this way: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." Later that month, the Spanish-language network announced it would be severing ties with the candidate, and that it would be terminating a $13.5 million, five-year deal to air Trump's Miss USA pageant. Trump went on to sue the network for $500 million. He later settled with Univision almost eight months later; details were not made public.
2. The T-Shirt Company StopTrump.us
The now-defunct website StopTrump.us, which previously sold shirts critical of the Republican nominee, received a cease and desist letter from Alan Garten, Trump's general counsel, soon after launching. “Mr. Trump considers this to be a very serious matter, and has authorized our legal team to take all necessary and appropriate actions to bring an immediate halt to your blatant and unauthorized use of his trademark.”
3. John Kasich
On Nov. 19, 2015, when the primaries were still in full swing, presidential hopeful John Kasich debuted a generic campaign ad in which he briefly took a jab at President Obama, Trump, and Ben Carson by displaying their photos while a voiceover warned viewers that "On-the-job training for president does not work." Trump decided to preemptively threaten Kasich with a lawsuit should his ads ever get really negative.
4. A Jeb Bush Donor
Billionaire Mike Fernandez from Florida, a conservative who gave more than $3 million to Jeb Bush's campaign, was also hit with a cease-and-desist letter from Trump's legal team after several news outlets reporting that he planned to run full-page anti-Trump ads in newspapers in Miami, Des Moines, and Las Vegas. The letter warned:
[P]lease be advised that in the event your ads contain any false, misleading, defamatory, inaccurate or otherwise tortious statements and representations concerning Mr. Trump, his businesses or his brand, we will not hesitate to seek immediate legal action to prevent such distribution and hold you jointly and severally liable to the fullest extent of the law for any damages resulting therefrom... and will look forward to doing it.
Almost a year later, the lawsuit has still not been filed. Meanwhile, Fernandez, who is now supporting Hillary Clinton, has continued to pay for negative Trump ads in newspapers all over the country.
5. The Washington Post
When interviewed by a Washington Post reporter in January for a story about one of his casinos in Atlantic City that went bankrupt in 1991, Trump bluntly told the journalist, "If you write this one, I’m suing you." The newspaper ran the story anyway.
6. Ted Cruz - Part 1
On the day of the Iowa Republican caucus, Ted Cruz's campaign left voicemail messages to supporters, falsely announcing Ben Carson's exit from the primaries and urging them to “inform any Carson caucus-goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead.” After Cruz's victory in the state, Trump described his opponent's actions as cheating, and said in an interview that he would "probably" sue. “It’s a total voter fraud when you think of it, and he picked up a lot of those votes, and that’s why the polls were so wrong, because of that,” he said. “I couldn’t understand why the polls were wrong.”
7. Ted Cruz - Part 2
As the Republican primaries heated up in February, Trump raised the ante by threatening to sue the Canadian-born Cruz for being legally incapable of running for president.
8. Ted Cruz - Part 3
Trump's attorney sent Cruz a letter threatening legal action after Cruz's campaign aired a negative ad featuring footage from a 1999 interview in which Trump describes himself as "pro-choice in every respect," even declaring that as president, Trump would not ban partial-birth abortion. Cruz's response was to challenge his opponent to go ahead. “So. Donald, I would encourage you if you want to file a lawsuit challenging this ad, claiming it is defamation, file the lawsuit. It is a remarkable contention that an ad that plays video of Donald Trump speaking on national television is somehow defamation.”
9. EDM Artists
The EDM duo Fight Clvb released a song titled "Donald Trump" in February, along with a music video in which photos of the Republican nominee's face were pasted onto other people's bodies, which then danced throughout the whole thing. After receiving a cease and desist letter from Trump's camp, they decided to stick to their guns. "We don't believe that we are doing anything wrong by using your name, a public figure, in a parody song," they wrote in response. "For that reason, I must inform you that we have every intention of leaving the track up, on every outlet that its [sic] currently available on."
10. The Republican National Committee
Trump beat Cruz in the Louisiana primary by 3.6 percent of the vote, but since the results were so close, both candidates received 18 delegates. Unfortunately for Trump, the state also had five unbound delegates, who were expected to choose Cruz.
11. The New York Times - Part 1
When The New York Times reached out to Trump for a statement regarding his tax records that a reporter from the paper received from an anonymous source, one of the candidate's lawyers sent an email to the paper threatening "prompt initiation of appropriate legal action" if it published the documents. The Trump campaign also released a statement arguing the records were "illegally obtained."
12. The New York Times - Part 2
Following the release of an article in which two women accused Trump of sexual assault, a lawyer reached out to The New York Times demanding a retraction and threatening to sue them for libel. A newsroom lawyer for The Times then responded with an epic letter of refusal which went viral.
13. A Popular UK Nightclub
A popular nightclub in Coventry took to Twitter in October and posted a letter allegedly sent by Trump's general counsel threatening to sue the establishment for using his image in a poster promoting a Halloween event. Alan Garter, who allegedly wrote the letter, denied ever having sent it and called it a "hoax." The nightclub, on the other hand, spoke to the newspaper Coventry Telegraph, insisting that it was real:
We wanted to do something topical for Halloween and have some light-hearted fun with our poster. It was therefore quite a shock to receive the letter from Mr Trump’s representatives but we have decided to ignore their request and continue using the poster. The Kasbah is an independent nightclub in Coventry and we don’t feel we should be pressured into amending our promotion by Trump and his corporate legal team.
At a rally in Delaware, Ohio, Trump made it clear to the entire country that he plans on pursuing legal action if he feels Election Day's results turn out to be suspicious. "Of course I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result."
15. His Accusers
Last, but not least, the Republican candidate told a crowd of supporters that he plans to sue the women who have publicly accused him of sexual assault. "Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign," he said. "Total fabrication. The events never happened. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over." Later that day, an 11th woman publicly came out with another claim of sexual assault by Trump. It's difficult to see how he can still insist on his complete innocence when there are six witnesses backing up the allegations made by People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, and when there is an audio recording of him admitting to taking advantage of his role as owner of the Miss Teen USA beauty pageant to walk in on the women in the dressing room, as five previous contestants claimed.
So far, only Trump's case against Univision made it to court, but that hasn't stopped him from continuing to threaten legal action throughout the 2016 election.