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Donald Trump's Latest Lawsuit Could Cost Him Dearly

Newsweek 1/31/2023 Ewan Palmer
Former U.S President Donald Trump speaks at a 'Save America' rally on October 22, 2022 in Robstown, Texas. © Brandon Bell/Getty Images Former U.S President Donald Trump speaks at a 'Save America' rally on October 22, 2022 in Robstown, Texas.

Donald Trump has filed yet another lawsuit, but he's clearly able to accept the financial consequences if it doesn't work out, a legal expert told Newsweek.

On Monday, the former president said he's suing veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, publisher Simon & Schuster, and its parent company, Paramount Global, for $49 million over the journalist's use of interviews for his audiobook, The Trump Tapes.

In the suit, Trump alleges that he told Woodward "numerous times" that the interviews he gave to the reporter in 2019 and 2020 must only be used for the reporter's book, Rage. The former president accuses Woodward of attempting to "capitalize" on his voice by using the recorded interviews in the separate The Trump Tapes audiobook, which was released in October 2022.


Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former U.S. attorney, said Trump's $49 million lawsuit is legally "weak," and that if the former president consented to the use of the interviews in a book, then he can't object to them later being published in audio form, unless there was an "explicit agreement" against that.

However, McQuade suggested that the true intention of the suit may not to be actually punish Woodward or his publisher.

"The lawsuit may instead be intended to provide political talking points portraying himself as the victim of the media," McQuade told Newsweek. "Aggressive use of lawsuits can also be a way of deterring others from publishing unflattering news."

McQuade added that Trump may accept any possible sanctions he will receive over the dubious suit "as the cost of doing business."

Trump is known to file lawsuits for a host of legal reasons, including merely to delay and frustrate proceedings against him, his campaign team, or his businesses.

Earlier this month, Trump and his lawyer, Alina Habba, were reprimanded by a judge for filing a series of "frivolous" 2016 election lawsuits against the perceived enemies of the former president.

On January 19, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks sanctioned Trump and Habba for their "continuing pattern of misuse of the courts" by launching legally questionable suits naming the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and former FBI director James Comey as defendants.

Trump alleged that Clinton and other Democrat figures had conspired with each other to accuse his campaign team of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election in order to hinder his chances of victory.

In his ruling, Middlebrooks fined Trump and Habba and ordered them both jointly to pay nearly $938,000 in legal costs for the 31 defendants named in their suits.

Middlebrooks also criticized Trump from being a "mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process" with his use of lawsuits as political weapons.

In a joint statement, Woodward and Simon & Schuster said Trump's lawsuit is "without merit" and they will "aggressively" defend themselves against it.

"All these interviews were on the record and recorded with President Trump's knowledge and agreement," the statement said.

"Moreover, it is in the public interest to have this historical record in Trump's own words. We are confident that the facts and the law are in our favor."

Trump has been contacted for comment.

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