Univision may have fired Donald Trump, but the billionaire presidential hopeful is demanding a hefty severance package.
In a press release issued Tuesday, Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and general counsel, announced Trump has filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision Networks & Studios in New York State Supreme Court. A copy of the lawsuit claims “breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith, intentional interference with contractual relationship, defamation, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.”
Trump says Doral-based Univision – the largest Spanish-language network in the U.S. – broke its contract with the Miss Universe Organization, which Trump owns, when it announced last week it would not broadcast the Miss USA pageant originally scheduled to air on July 12.
Univision executives stated they pulled the plug after reflecting on comments Trump made during a speech on June 16 announcing his run for the GOP presidential nomination. In the speech, Trump took aim at Mexico, claiming the country was “sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and they’re rapists.”
The lawsuit claims Univision’s decision was a “politically motivated attempt” to supress Trump’s right to free speech as protected by the First Amendment and points out the principal owner of Univision is Haim Saban, a longtime Clinton Foundation donor and current fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Executives at Univision responded to the lawsuit via e-mail: “We just reviewed Mr. Trump’s complaint for the first time, and it is both factually false and legally ridiculous. We will not only vigorously defend the case, but will continue to fight against Mr. Trump’s ongoing efforts to run away from the derogatory comments he made on June 16th about Mexican immigrants. Our decision to end our business relationship with Mr. Trump was influenced solely by our responsibility to speak up for the community we serve.”
In the statement released Tuesday, Trump claims his attitude toward Mexicans is not new.
“Nothing I stated was different from what I have been saying for many years ... There is a high level of crime occurring in this country due to unchecked illegal immigration. This is a major security issue for the United States.”
Trump also took a swipe at NBC Universal, which yesterday broke off all ties with the host of their long-running hits The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice and announced they, too, would no longer be airing the Miss USA pageant as planned.
“These have long been my views and I have the courage, unlike many others, to express them. As a consequence of their inappropriate actions, Univision and NBC have abandoned 51 wonderful young women who have come from all over the United States to pursue their dream of being crowned Miss USA.”
Despite Trump’s efforts to save this year’s edition of the pageant, the bad news keep piling up. On Tuesday, MSNBC news anchor Thomas A. Roberts and former Dancing with the Stars champ Cheryl Burke, who had been scheduled to co-host Miss USA on July 12, announced they were both dropping out of the gig.