Donald Trump has managed not to threaten to sue a journalist or critic in the last:

 


 

Who cares?
Donald Trump wants to change the law that protects your right to question and to criticize government leaders. Our democracy is dependent upon the ability to raise questions about our elected officials without fear of being imprisoned or punished by lawsuits. Trump, however, has systematically used baseless threats of frivolous lawsuits to deter people from criticizing him -- even during this campaign. Many of these threats are over tepid criticism or facts that are undeniably true -- just take a look at the list below.

Trump knows that he doesn't have to actually sue -- getting an ominous letter from a lawyer is often enough to scare into silence. On rare occasions, Trump has actually followed through on his threats, dragging critics and journalists through years of litigation just to make them spend money to defend themselves. He has never won one of these lawsuits and has boasted about wasting critics' time and money on defending frivolous lawsuits.

You may not like the press, and you may think that some of them deserve some pushback. But the law that protects the press protects you, and it protects our democracy. It requires that public figures, like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, prove that someone knew they were lying or simply didn't care whether what they were reporting was true. There's breathing room to make mistakes, but not outright lies. Trump has often pursued or threatened lawsuits which would punish people for making mistakes, having an opinion, or even telling the truth.

If you're a Trump supporter, imagine a President Clinton with the power to sue or imprison you without having to prove that you knowingly lied. That's the law that Trump wants to change.

After all -- they're just words, right?

Donald Trump's 43 Threats and 5 Lawsuits
  • 10/27/2016 8:30 PM:   Trump, asked about the Billy Bush tape, says it was an "illegal act" for NBC to record it, that it was "absolutely" illegal to release the tape, and that "we're going to find out soon enough" whether he will take legal action against NBC. (The Hill)
  • 10/27/2016 11:59 AM:   Trump company threat to people, apparently including a 92-year-old widow, responsible for statements made in documentary criticizing a golf course. (The Scotsman)
  • 10/22/2016 12:15 PM:   Trump: The media "is trying to poison the minds" of the voters. "Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over." (Donald Trump)
  • 10/13/2016 1:24 PM:   Trump is "preparing a lawsuit" against the New York Times for "Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately." Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (Donald Trump)
  • 10/13/2016 12:25 AM:   Trump's lawyer threatens the New York Times over an article entitled, "Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately" Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (McKay Coppins)
  • 10/12/2016:   Trump campaign official says the New York Times and "politically-motivated accusers better lawyer up." Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (CNN)
  • 10/2/2016:  Trump's lawyer threatens the New York Times for publishing copies of some of his tax returns. Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (Trevor Timm)
  • 9/17/2016:  Trump suggests he might sue the New York Times for "irresponsible intent." Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (Donald J. Trump)
  • 7/18/2016:  Trump's lawyer threatens Tony Schwartz, co-author of "The Art of the Deal," over statements he made in an interview with the New Yorker. Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (New Yorker)
  • 5/18/2016:  Trump says he "will be bringing more libel suits" against unidentified critics, perhaps even "you folks," the Washington Post reporters interviewing him. Trump hasn't filed any lawsuits. (Washington Post)
  • 5/13/2016:  Trump threatens Amazon.com and Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, with tax audits if he becomes president, over Washington Post stories critical of Trump. Trump hasn't been elected and can't direct tax audits -- yet. (Vox)
  • 4/27/2016:  Trump threatens Daily Beast columnist and author of "The Making of Donald Trump" David Cay Johnston for unknown reasons. Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (Trevor Timm)
  • 4/20/2016:  Unidentified person, believed to be involved with Trump, threatens an artist over a nude and unflattering painting of Trump. Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (Hyperallergetic)
  • 4/12/2016:  Trump's lawyer threatens the Associated Press, for reporting on a business dispute involving Trump. Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (Washington Post)
  • 3/27/2016:  Trump threatens to sue over getting fewer delegates than Ted Cruz in the Louisiana primary: "Lawsuit coming." A lawsuit was never filed. (Donald J. Trump)
  • 2/26/2016:  Trump vows to "open up the libel laws" in order to sue the New York Times and Washington Post. (Politico)
  • 2/16/2016:  Trump's lawyers send a letter to Ted Cruz's campaign demanding that they cease airing a television ad quoting Trump. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (CNN)
  • 2/12/2016:  Trump threatens to sue Ted Cruz for "negative ads" and not being a "natural born citizen." Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Donald J. Trump)
  • 1/18/2016:  Trump threatens the Washington Post for covering Trump's failed Taj Majal casino. "If you write this one, I’m suing you." Trump hasn't filed a lawsuit. (Washington Post)
  • 12/4/2015:  Trump's lawyer threatens a Jeb Bush donor who paid for ads calling Trump a "narcissistic BULLYionaire." Trump never filed a lawsuit. (Miami Herald)
  • 11/19/2015:  Trump tweets that if John Kasich "is not truthful in his negative ads I will sue him just for fun!" Trump didn't file a lawsuit. (Donald J. Trump)
  • 11/19/2015:  Trump's lawyer threatens John Kasich for advertisements run by a pro-Kasich super PAC. Trump didn't file a lawsuit. (Politico)
  • 10/29/2015:  Trump's companies sue a union over flyers claiming that Trump slept in a union-affiliated hotel during a campaign stop. (Las Vegas Sun)
  • 9/22/2015:  Trump's lawyer threatens a website selling anti-Trump shirts, StopTrump.us, demanding that its owners confirm that they had "ceased all uses of Mr. Trump's name". Trump never filed a lawsuit. (Washington Post)
  • 9/21/2015:  Trump's lawyer threatens Club for Growth for a political ad Trump didn't like. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (NJ.com)
  • 7/27/2015:  Trump's lawyer threatens the Daily Beast for reporting that Trump's ex-wife once used the word "rape" to describe an incident with Trump. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Daily Beast)
  • 7/2/2015:  Trump's lawyer threatens the National Hispanic Media Coalition for criticizing Trump's "bigoted, racist, anti-Latino rant." Trump never filed the lawsuit. (The Wrap)
  • 6/30/2015:  Trump sues Univision's president for defamation over an Instagram post comparing Trump's appearance to Dylann Roof. The case was settled. (Deadline.com)
  • 2/29/2014:  Trump suggests he'll sue a Twitter user who tricked him into retweeting a photo of two serial killers. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Washington Post)
  • 2013:  Trump's lawyer threatens satirical newspaper The Onion over article entitled, "When You're Feeling Low, Just Remember I'll Be Dead In About 15 Or 20 Years." Trump never filed the lawsuit. (TODAY)
  • 2/19/2013:  Trump threatens an internet campaigner who started an online petition calling on Macy's to part ways with Trump. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Business Insider)
  • 2/4/2013:  Trump sues Bill Maher over a joke offer to "donate $5 million to charity if Trump provided a copy of his birth certificate proving that he’s not “spawn of his mother having sex with orangutan.” (Trump dismissed the lawsuit.) (The Hollywood Reporter)
  • 1/31/2013:  Trump threatens to teach a rapper "a big boy lesson about lawsuits" over a song called "Donald Trump." Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Donald Trump)
  • 11/9/2012:  Trump suggests "somebody" (apparently David Letterman or the Golf Channel) would sue documentary filmmaker Anthony Baxter over a documentary critical of Trump's golf courses. No lawsuit was filed. (International Business Times)
  • 2012:  Trump's lawyers threaten to sue USA Today because columnist Al Neuharth called him a "clown." Trump never filed the lawsuit. (USA Today)
  • 2012:  Trump wins an arbitration award against a Miss USA contestant who posted on Facebook that the pageant was "fraudulent," "trashy," and "rigged." The contestant's father says she later settled the case and never paid "a penny," but Trump's lawyer says they "recovered funds." Trump's lawyer later bragged that he had "destroy[ed]" her life. (The Atlantic)
  • 10/26/2011:   Trump suggests he might sue MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell after he questioned Trump's net worth. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (The Atlantic)
  • 2010:   Trump University files a counterclaim against a woman who filed a class action lawsuit against Trump University, alleging that the woman libeled Trump University by posting comments about it online. After an appeal over an anti-SLAPP motion, Trump University lost and may owe the woman $800,000 in attorneys' fees. (Media Law Resource Center)
  • 12/16/2007:   Trump threatens the Los Angeles Times over an article about Trump University. When asked what was "inaccurate and libelous," Trump replied, "You'll find out in court." Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Los Angeles Times)
  • 12/21/2006:   Trump threatens Rosie O'Donnell for saying he went bankrupt: "I never went bankrupt, but she said I went bankrupt. So probably I'll sue her because it would be fun. I'd like to take some money out of her fat-ass pockets." Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Washington Post)
  • 2006:   Trump sues author Timothy O'Brien for raising questions about Trump's worth. Trump lost, but later said "I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees, and they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make his life miserable, which I'm happy about." (Washington Post)
  • 1991: Trump's team issues threats over documentary, "Trump: What's the Deal?", deterring broadcasters from airing it. The documentary was later independently released on iTunes. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (USA Today)
  • 1990: Trump uses threat of a defamation lawsuit to demand the termination of an analyst who predicted that Trump's Taj Majal casino would fail. He was fired. The Taj Majal failed. (Sun Sentinel)
  • 1985: Trump sues the Chicago Tribune and architecture critic Paul Gapp over an illustration of a proposed Trump building Gapp described as "an atrocious, ugly monstrosity." Trump lost. (Trump v. Chicago Tribune)
  • 1979: Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, for reporting on his relationship with city officials. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (Village Voice)
  • 12/12/1973: Trump sues the Justice Department for $100,000,000 because the New York Times had reported on the Justice Department's lawsuit alleging that Trump's properties had racially discriminated against black people. Trump lost.
  • Unknown: ABC threatened over airing unknown documentary involving Trump. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (USA Today)
  • Unknown: BBC threatened over airing unknown documentary involving Trump. Trump never filed the lawsuit. (USA Today)

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