President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign sent a letter to CNN on Friday threatening to sue the network for its “sustained barrage of unfair, unfounded, unethical and unlawful attacks” against the president.
The letter, penned by Trump campaign attorney Charles Harder and addressed to CNN president Jeff Zucker and general counsel David Vigilante, comes just days after conservative activist organization Project Veritas released a video alleging deep-seated bias at the network.
The video features footage secretly recorded by now-former CNN employee Cary Poarch in which various staffers discuss the network’s liberal bias and Zucker’s “personal vendetta” against Trump.
Zucker himself can be heard pushing for more impeachment coverage in one of the recordings.
“We’re moving towards impeachment. I mean, we shouldn’t pretend this is going one way. And so all these moves are moves towards impeachment,” Zucker can be heard saying. “So don’t lose sight of what the biggest story is.”
Harder’s letter takes Zucker and his network to task for their claims of unbiased reporting when the evidence from Project Veritas points to the contrary.
“Your website expressly represents to the public, in writing, that you are ‘journalists,’ ‘truth seekers,’ ‘united by a mission to inform, engage and empower the world,’ and you ‘stand for excellence in journalism and [your] products,’ Harder writes.
“Recently released video footage of individuals alleged to be your employees … indicates that your reporting related to President Trump is contrary to your own mission,” he says.
“Your own employees appear to state that CNN is focused on trying to ‘take down President Trump.’”
Harder goes on to hint that the footage from Project Veritas is not the only documentation he has of CNN’s bias.
“The aforementioned examples are merely the tip of the iceberg of the evidence my clients have accumulated over recent years,” he claims.
“We also expect substantial additional information about CNN’s wrongful practices to become known in the coming days and weeks.”
In perhaps the most forceful paragraph of the letter, Harder describes in a sentence his dim view of CNN’s reporting.
“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,” he writes.
Harder alleges that the discrepancy between CNN’s assertions of objectivity and the reality of its anti-Trump bias violates federal law.
“Your actions are in violation of the Lanham Act … among other applicable laws, by constituting misrepresentations to the public, to your advertisers, and others,” he writes.
The Lanham Act, passed by Congress in 1946, creates requirements for trademark protection and sets standards for trademark infringement, according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.
The Trump lawyer closes his letter by suggesting a “resolution” for the network’s coverage of his client, which he says “would include a substantial payment of damages, as well as all other appropriate measures that are necessary to fully address the magnitude of the situation.”
While the president frequently refers to CNN and other establishment media outlets as “fake news,” his attorney’s threat to sue is a marked escalation in rhetoric.
CNN responded to Harder’s letter with a statement dismissing the attorney’s allegations.
“This is nothing more than a desperate PR stunt and doesn’t merit a response,” CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said, according to The Hill.