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Kathy Griffin Says Donald Trump and Family Are Trying to Ruin Her Career

Variety logo Variety 6/2/2017 Ted Johnson
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Kathy Griffin said that President Trump and his family are “personally trying to ruin my life forever,” in the wake of a controversial photo shoot in which she held up a mask that resembled Trump’s severed head.

Trump and his family members tweeted their upset over the image, and Griffin said that she has been subjected to a constant stream of death threats. Her attorney, Lisa Bloom, suggested that it was an attempt to silence the free speech rights of a comic who makes provocative and critical political humor.

“What’s happening to me has never happened in this great country,” Griffin said during a press conference Friday, referring to Trump and his family members’ tweets in response to the photo shoot.

“I don’t think I will have a career after this,” she said, as she started tearing up. “I am going to be honest, he broke me. He broke me. And then I felt, ‘This isn’t right. This is not right. And I apologized because that was the right thing to do an I meant it.”

Her appearance at the Bloom firm was the first since Tuesday, when she issued a video apology for the images that she acknowledged went “too far.”

At the conference, Griffin reiterated “that apology absolutely stands. I feel horrible.”

She was at times emotional and tearful and times threw in a few quips, like when she said that her mother “is not speaking to me because she is in love with Tucker Carlson.”

But she also was defiant, insisting that the backlash would not have happened to a male comedian, and vowing to continue with the Trump humor.

The president, she said, “picked the wrong redhead.”

“I am not afraid of Donald Trump. He’s a bully,” she said. She said that “it was quite clear to me” that Trump and his family “are trying to use me as a distraction.”

Bloom said that Griffin has been contacted by the Secret Service and that she has retained a criminal attorney, Dmitry Gorin. He called it “outrageous” that a comic should be subject to a criminal investigation, and called on the Secret Service to close the case.

Since Griffin did her photo shoot and posted the images to her Twitter account, CNN has dropped her from its New Year’s Eve coverage, a decade-long tradition in which she has hosted from Times Square with Anderson Cooper. On Thursday night, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said that it would “be better” for her not to appear at a planned July 7 event in Beverly Hills in which they were to hold a conversation about his new book.

“I have had everyone turn on me, but I just want to make people laugh,” Griffin said.

Griffin said that she has had five tour dates cancelled, and quipped that the “most ironic” was a casino in Albuquerque.

Griffin said that she had worked with the photographer, Tyler Shields, before, and admired some of his more provocative works. She said that in doing the shoot with the mockup of Trump’s head, she knew she would get flack but “I didn’t think people would threaten to murder me or mobilize people to murder me.”

The incident has made its way into a political race in Georgia. A GOP SuperPAC produced an ad that tries to link Jon Ossoff, a Democratic candidate seeking a congressional seat in a special election, to Griffin. Ossoff’s campaign condemned Griffin and called on his Republican opponent, Karen Handel, to ask that it be pulled.

At the press conference, Bloom chided Trump for what she called misogynistic remarks against women, and also blasted his budget cutbacks, the pullout of the Paris climate accord and attacks on Planned Parenthood.

It underscored her point that Griffin’s humor fell well within protected speech, calling the photo shoot a “parody” of Trump’s “own sexist remarks.”

She said that “for the first time in history” a sitting president was making “a personal attempt to ruin a comedian.”

“The message was clear: Criticize the president, lose your job,” she said.

Bloom, too, said that there was a double standard that applied to female public figures versus male public figures. She cited male musicians who have used violent imagery or statements about the president, and said, “Ted Nugent threatened to kill President Obama. President Trump invited him to the White House.”

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