Donald Trump sues Bob Woodward over audio recordings of interviews: NPR
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Audi Canada and Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump has followed through on his threat to sue Bob Woodward for Washington Post the journalist’s latest book, accusing him of broadcasting audio recordings of their interviews without his consent and claiming nearly $50 million in damages.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Northern District of Florida, also names publisher Simon & Schuster and its parent company, Paramount Global, as defendants. He accuses Woodward of “systematic spoofing, manipulation and exploitation of audio” in violation of Trump’s contractual and copyright rights.
The problem is the audiobook The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trumpwhich was released in October 2022 and consists of recordings of more than a dozen interviews the two had conducted during Trump’s last year in office.
These talks – conducted with the full cooperation of Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago between December 2019 and August 2020 – formed the basis of Woodward’s 2020 book Rage. He made headlines for revealing, among other things, how Trump has downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump alleges that when Rage did not achieve the same level of commercial success as FearWoodward’s 2018 book focused on Trump’s White House, the journalist and publisher “conspired to gather and concoct more than eight hours of ‘raw’ interviews” and released them as an audiobook “without permission of President Trump.”
The lawsuit also accuses those involved of unlawfully manipulating the audio by selectively omitting parts of Trump’s responses. Trump described it as “an overt and blatant attempt to make me look as bad as possible,” in a Truth Social publication series Monday.
“Paramount, SSI and Woodward deviated from standard industry practices, failed to obtain required clearances, misappropriated copyrights from President Trump, manipulated recordings to benefit Woodward’s desired narrative while peddling the story that the recordings are ‘raw’ and deprived President Trump of the opportunity to publish or not to publish his remarks, read in his voice,” reads the complaint.
The book has since been released in other forms, including a paperback and an e-book. Based on the price of each audiobook, the lawsuit seeks more than $49 million, not including punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
Woodward and Simon & Schuster responded with a joint statement calling the lawsuit “without merit” and promising to “defend themselves aggressively.”
“All of these interviews were recorded and recorded with the knowledge and consent of President Trump,” read the statement provided to NPR. “Furthermore, 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.”
The lawsuit is no surprise – it’s Trump’s MO
Trump said at the time of the audiobook’s release that he would sue Woodward – whom he called “very sordid” – for compensation for the sale of tapes he claims belong to him.
The lawsuit is Trump’s latest attempt to discredit journalists and others who have criticized him.
“I continue my fight against this corrupt, dishonest and deranged Fake News Media by filing this complaint against a man whose image is very different from reality, Bob Woodward, his publisher Simon & Schuster, and their parent company, Paramount Global, Trump, who has actively peddled election disinformation, wrote on Truth Social, adding that “I will always stand up for the TRUTH and stand against the evil forces of disinformation and Fake News!”
In October 2022, Trump sued CNN for alleged defamation, seeking $475 million in damages. The following month, he sued New York Attorney General Letitia James for intimidation.
It was one of two lawsuits Trump has withdrawn in recent weeks, after a Florida judge fined him and his attorney nearly $1 million for filing what he considered a “completely frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and other political rivals.
U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks accused Trump of a “pattern of abuse of court” for filing frivolous lawsuits for political gain, which he said “undermines the rule of law” and ” amounts to obstruction of justice,” as The Associated Press reported earlier this month.
Trump and his company have also faced numerous lawsuits.
Among them: A federal judge ruled earlier this month that writer E. Jean Carroll can sue Trump for rape and defamation and a New York court ordered two companies owned by the former president to pay $1.61 million in fines and penalties for tax evasion.
Meanwhile, a grand jury in Manhattan is hearing evidence this week into whether Trump committed crimes by paying silent money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016.