Throughout the course of the day, various quotes have leaked out in which Steve Bannon accused Donald Trump and his family of everything from “treason” on down. Trump seemed too stunned to even bother attacking Bannon on Twitter, instead going oddly quiet. Now, with the day nearly over, we’re finally seeing Trump’s response: he’s taking legal action against Bannon in response to the accusations.
Trump’s attorneys have sent a cease and desist letter to Steve Bannon tonight, according to an ABC News report (link). It’s not entirely clear what’s being ceased and desisted, as Bannon has already made the remarks, and they’re in a book that’s already in the hands of a number of people. Nonetheless, Trump’s legal team is accusing Bannon of “defamation by libel and slander” due to an existing “confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement” and vowing that “legal action is imminent.” Let’s be clear about how stunning this is, even by Trump’s standards.
This isn’t a tweet making the hollow threat to sue someone, as we’ve seen Trump do before. This is Trump’s attorneys taking actual legal action, in the form of a formal cease and desist letter, against one of his own former advisers. To put it more bluntly, the so-called President of the United States is now sending out cease and desist letters to those who are ratting him out for his various scandals.
Steve Bannon has not publicly provided any evidence to back up his claims about Donald Trump and his family. Perhaps Bannon is relishing the opportunity to go into court and lay out his evidence, considering how much Bannon loves any form of publicity. In any case, if Trump’s goal here is to make Bannon’s accusations go away, this is likely to have the opposite effect. Trump is so enraged about Bannon’s accusations, he’s panicking and making precisely the wrong move, which will turn this into a bigger story – and the night is still young.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report