President Donald Trump recently had his personal attorney, Charles J. Harder, send a “cease and desist” letter to book publisher Henry Holt & Co., demanding that it refrain from releasing or disseminating the book FIRE AND FURY, by Michael Wolff. Holt has ignored the letter and published the book.
Much of the controversial material in the book consists of direct quotes from Steve Bannon, who was for a time Trump’s “Chief Strategist.” Bannon has not denied the accuracy of these quotes. Along with the publisher, Bannon and Wolff also each received Harder’s letter.
The Thing to Know:
If the President did have authority to order that a publisher cease and desist, it would be an example of what lawyers call a “prior restraint” on publication. Many scholars think that prior restraints — as distinct for example from post-publication civil liabilities — are at the core of what the first amendment was designed to prohibit.