Donald Trump has found his latest target for a lawsuit: the man who published a Miami Herald newspaper ad slamming the Republican presidential candidate as a “narcissistic BULLYionaire.”
Trump’s attorney threatened to sue top Jeb Bush political donor Mike Fernandez after learning about the Miami billionaire’s plans to run full-page newspaper ads slamming Trump and imploring fellow Republicans to oppose the 2016 frontrunner.
Trump general counsel Alan Garten sent Fernandez a one-paragraph letter on Trump Organization letterhead on Friday via FedEx after Fernandez made his ad public.
“Though we believe your decision is fool hearted,” Garten wrote, apparently meaning “foolhardy,” “please 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.”
“Please be guided accordingly,” the letter concluded.
“Only in America can an immigrant scare a #bullyionaire,” said Fernandez, who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba at age 12 in 1964. “If there is any damage being done to the Trump brand, it is by Donald Trump himself.”
Trump has already warned of legal action against a slew of other GOP critics, including the conservative Club for Growth (after it ran a TV ad accusing Trump of wanting to raise taxes), the political action committee backing rival and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (after it announced a $2.5 million anti-Trump media campaign), and the company StomTrump.Us (after it produced anti-Trump merchandise).
Trump’s not the only litigious one: Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler said he might sue Trump to stop him from using the band’s song “Dream On” in his campaign rallies.
Garten’s letter, titled “Anti-Trump Advertisements,” was also sent to James P. Robinson of Miami, whom Trump listed as a representative of “Right to Rise PAC, Inc.” Robinson is treasurer for Right to Rise leadership PAC, a separate entity from Right to Rise USA, the super PAC backing Bush. The leadership PAC was created to pay for staff and policy work ahead of Bush’s formal campaign. The super PAC has raised more than $100 million to bolster Bush’s candidacy.
It’s unclear why Robinson was addressed, given that Fernandez purchased the ads on his own, without help from any Right to Rise group or Bush’s campaign.
“This lawsuit appears to validate Mr. Fernandez’s accurate claims that Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president of the United States,” said Paul Lindsay, spokesman for Right to Rise USA. “It follows the pattern throughout Donald’s career of using bullying tactics and the legal system to make up for his deep-seated insecurities and repeated business failures.”
Trump’s campaign did not respond to emailed questions.
The ad ran Sunday in the Miami Herald; Fernandez also intends to publish it this coming Sunday in newspapers in Des Moines and Las Vegas, which will host a Republican primary debate Dec. 16.
Bush himself took issue Sunday with a portion of Fernandez’s ad comparing Trump to some of history’s most notorious dictators, including Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
“Donald Trump is also making some of your biggest supporters quite angry,” George Stephanopoulos asked Bush in a live interview on ABC News’ This Week. “Mike Fernandez, [the] biggest single supporter to your super PAC, is taking out full-page ads right now, where he compares Trump, suggesting that he’s — that he’s like Mussolini and Hitler. Do you think that’s appropriate?”
“No, I don’t,” Bush said. He didn’t go as far as to denounce Fernandez’s overall effort, however.
“I think that people are going to see that Donald Trump is not a serious candidate, that his message of division is not what we need,” Bush said. “We’ve had a president that has not been a commander in chief; he’s been a divider in chief. Our side doesn’t need to mimic that.”
Then Stephanopoulos asked about Fernandez’s declaration to the Herald that if Trump wins the GOP nomination, Fernandez would vote for Hillary Clinton instead — assuming she becomes the Democratic nominee — as “the lesser of two evils.”
“You’re committed to supporting Donald Trump,” Stephanopoulos said. “I know you don’t think he’s going to get it. I know you think you’re going to be the nominee. But you’re committed to supporting Donald Trump if he’s the Republican nominee?”
“I have pledged to support the Republican nominee,” Bush said, without answering the question directly. “And Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee.”