Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner Threaten Defamation Suit Over Lincoln Project's Non-Defamatory Billboards
from the Trump,-Kushner:-give-this-entity-we-dislike-more-attention-please,-fellow-Americ dept
Donald Trump’s offspring are as thin-skinned as the President himself. And, like him, they apparently have access to the worst legal counsel money can buy. First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, apparently can’t handle being criticized for their involvement in the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lincoln Project — formed by Republicans who’ve distanced themselves from Trump and the current Republican party — has been routinely and harshly critical of Trump and his presidency. Recently, the group purchased billboards in Time Square that feature Ivanka Trump gesturing towards COVID-19 death counts in the US and New York State, along with a quote from Jared Kushner — the head of Trump’s business-facing COVID-19 response task force — stating that anything New Yorkers suffer is their own problem.
Here’s a photo of the billboard as posted by the Lincoln Project’s Twitter account:
The hand gesture appears to be an approximation of the one used by Ivanka Trump when she tweeted a plug for Goya Beans earlier this year.
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
The Kushner quote comes from a Vanity Fair article published in September. It was attributed to him by an attendee of one of Kusher’s COVID task force meetings — ones in which he pushed the idea the “free market” would control the spread of the virus.
The same attendee explained that although he believed in open markets, he feared that the system was breaking. As evidence, he pointed to a CNN report about New York governor Andrew Cuomo and his desperate call for supplies.
“That’s the CNN bullshit,” Kushner snapped. “They lie.”
According to another attendee, Kushner then began to rail against the governor: “Cuomo didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state…. His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
There’s the factual background. Here’s the response from the couple’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, who seemingly has no idea how defamation law works.
We represent Mr. Jared Kushner and Ms. Ivanka Trump. I am writing concerning the false, malicious and defamatory ads that the Lincoln Project is displaying on billboards in Times Square. Those ads show Ms. Trump smiling and gesturing toward a death count of Americans and New Yorkers, and attribute to Mr. Kushner the statement that “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem” (alteration in the original), with body bags underneath.
Of course, Mr. Kushner never made any such statement, Ms. Trump never made any such gesture, and the Lincoln Project’s representations that they did are an outrageous and shameful libel. If these billboard ads are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.
LOL. First off, Ivanka did make “such gesture,” even if it was to cradle an innocuous can of beans rather than proudly present the COVID death toll. Second, whether or not it’s ever proven Kushner made this statement, the Lincoln Project reasonably relied on reporting indicating he did. There’s nothing false, malicious, or defamatory about the quote posted on the billboard.
Finally, I have no doubt that Kasowitz is capable of writing a complaint demanding “enormous damages.” But writing a complaint is not the same thing as winning a lawsuit. And it’s not even in the same area code, nevermind ballpark, of collecting any damages of any amount.
The Lincoln Project has responded appropriately to this idiotic attempt to silence it with legal threats.
The level of indignant outrage Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have shown towards the Lincoln Project for exposing their indifference for the more than 223,000 people who have lost their lives due to their reckless mismanagement of COVID-19 is comical. While we truly enjoy living rent free in their heads, their empty threats will not be taken more seriously than we take Ivanka and Jared.
Jared and Ivanka have always been entitled, out-of-touch bullies who have never given the slightest indication they have any regard for the American people. We plan on showing them the same level of respect.
The billboards will stay up.
The Lincoln Project issued a longer “go fuck yourselves” via their legal representation a few hours later. It’s just as caustic as its first riposte.
You boldy predict that the result of your lawsuit “will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”
Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster.
Contrary to your claim that “Mr. Kushner never made any such statement,” Vanity Fair reported in a widely circulated article that Mr. Kushner did indeed say that New Yorkers “are going to suffer and that’s their problem” during the time that he was entrusted to lead our nation’s COVID-19 response. The Lincoln Project explicitly cited Vanity Fair as the source for Mr. Kushner’s featured statement. Please contact us again if at some point you somehow succeed in convincing Vanity Fair to retract its article, but I trust this supplemental explanation settles the matter for now as to Mr. Kushner’s remark.
The Lincoln Project would welcome the opportunity to further establish the truthfulness of its Time Square billboards through litigation and discovery, so sue if you must. In the meantime, may I suggest that if Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump are genuinely concerned about salvaging their reputations, they would do well to stop suppressing truthful criticism and instead turn their attention to the COVID-19 crisis that is still unfolding under their inept watch. These billboards are not causing Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump’s standing with the public to plummet. Their incompetence is.
I’d like to say I’d be very surprised if this legal threat actually becomes a lawsuit. But it’s been four extremely long years and it feels like nothing Trump or his offspring do is still capable of surprising me. If the power couple wants to pay Marc Kasowitz an enormous amount of money to waste everyone’s time, that’s up to them. But the Lincoln Project shouldn’t be forced to waste its own time and money just because Ivanka and Jared feel like wasting theirs. So, for that reason, I hope this is the last we hear from Jared and Ivanka about the Times Square billboards.