Whatever goodwill Donald Trump may have earned with conservative voters the billionaire candidate seems determined to undo.
Despite all his tough talk about the need to be blunt, the need to eradicate the kinds of political correctness that have stifled discussion, Trump is, perhaps, even more thin-skinned than President Obama and appears far more litigious.
The Trump Campaign has retained lawyers who have served the Ted Cruz Campaign with a cease and desist order to prevent them from running an ad in South Carolina that uses Trump’s own words on abortion to highlight the high stakes that rest in this upcoming election.
The Ted Cruz ad, entitled “Supreme Trust,” is a 30-second ad that is playing in South Carolina and offers very little commentary. Instead, the ad plays a portion of a 1999 interview where Trump claims that if he were president, he would not support a ban on partial-birth abortion and defined himself as “Very pro-choice.” The ad ends with a reminder that the next president will pick the Supreme Court justice to follow the recently-deceased Antonin Scalia.
Trump has repeatedly declared that he has “evolved” on the issue and now defines himself as pro-life. Still, the cease and desist order calls the ad “defamatory,” “libel,” and filled with “outright lies.”
The letter (pictured below) threatens a lawsuit unless the Cruz Campaign offers immediate written assurances that the ad will be pulled. It threatens damages and the standard legalese associated with a cease and desist order and ends with a threat that they will pursue legal action “and look forward to doing so.”
Instead of “sincerely,” the letter ends with an ominous, “Please be guided accordingly.”
The Cruz Campaign seems unafraid.
“I have to say to Mr. Trump, you have been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire adult life,” Cruz said at a press conference in South Carolina. “If you want to file a lawsuit challenging this ad, claiming defamation, file the lawsuit.”
“But if Donald Trump files the lawsuit that he threatens, that lawsuit will be frivolous,” Cruz said.
Cruz maintained that any judge would laugh-off a claim of defamation when the candidate merely used the accuser’s own words against him.
Cruz also went head-on at Florida Senator Marco Rubio , a man who has repeatedly called Cruz a “liar,” despite refusing to offer any demonstrable cause.
“Marco Rubio is behaving like Donald Trump with a smile,” Cruz quipped.
Trump and Rubio have worked feverishly in tandem to squash the formidable Cruz candidacy that has made steady gains and even upset frontrunner Donald Trump by winning Iowa. Since then, Trump and Rubio have worked to paint Cruz as a “liar.”
Cruz used Rubio’s own words in an interview with Univision against him last Saturday during a debate where Rubio claimed that he would not immediately undo Obama’s executive amnesty order.
Should Mr. Cruz be intimidated by the tough talk of the cease and desist letter? Certainly not.
While I cannot profess to be a great legal mind, it stands to reason that using an opponent’s own words against him is not only far from anything considered libelous, it’s par for the course in politics and practically a necessity.
Further, while I may not be a great legal scholar, Ted Cruz is. Cruz graduated cum laude from Princeton, magna cum laude from Harvard Law, was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, a clerk for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist, a professor of Supreme Court litigation at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin and the former solicitor general of Texas.
Though Mr. Trump undoubtedly has some great legal minds on his payroll, one should presume that Ted Cruz knows what does and does not meet the legal definitions of “libel.”
What this sad chapter in this race illustrates is the pettiness and overall childishness of Trump. While his tough talk is a welcomed departure from the mainstream Republican we are too often offered, Trump has shown that he is thin-skinned and petty and these are remarkably unlikable traits.
Further, Trump would be wise to remember that if there is anything conservatives hate more than rabid political correctness, it is the litigiousness of the truly whiny.
UPDATE: The Cruz Campaign’s lawyers have responded with a thorough legal rebuttal of the “laughable” claim that the ad in question is anything close to “libel.” The letter (pictured at the bottom of the page) thoroughly trounces Trump’s legal analysis and provides not only concrete legal doctrine with case law, but in direct and brutal language challenges the absurdity of the claim and cites numerous instances where Trump has supported pro-abortion candidates as recently as 2014.
The letter is blistering, even by political and legal standards, but holds a certain civility of which the Trump Campaign appears thoroughly bereft.
It ends with the promise that not only will the Cruz Campaign not pull the ad, but will now be showing it with greater frequency.
That sound you just heard is the mic dropping…