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Trump lawyer says stop tell-all book, publisher moves up sale date

President Donald Trump's lawyers are expanding their crusade against a new book that gives a salacious, behind-the-scenes account of the White House.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks on national security in Washington.Evan Vucci / AP file

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's lawyers are expanding their crusade against a new book that gives a behind-the-scenes account of the White House.

In a letter sent Thursday to "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff and his publisher, Trump attorney Charles Harder demanded that the book, which reached No. 1 on the Amazon best-seller list Wednesday, not be published or disseminated. A copy of the letter obtained by NBC News cites defamation, libel and "actual malice" among the alleged wrongdoings in the book.

Publisher Henry Holt announced Thursday that due to demand it was pushing up the publication date to Friday; it had been planned for Tuesday.

Wolff offered a "thank you" to the president.

Widely reported excerpts from the book have roiled Washington, including claims from former top Trump administration and campaign aide Steve Bannon that Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 was "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."

The president lashed out at Bannon in a statement Wednesday, saying that his former adviser had "lost his mind" when he left the White House and that the man credited with helping Trump hone his populist persona "has nothing to do with me or my Presidency."

Trump said on Twitter Thursday night that he "authorized Zero access to White House" for the author and "never spoke to him for book." The president also used the term "Sloppy Steve," apparently referring to Bannon.

Trump allies, including Trump Jr. and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, took to Twitter and cable news to denounce both Bannon and the book's claims.

Trump friend and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, in an interview with MSNBC, called Bannon "somewhat delusional with some of these claims he's been making."

Meanwhile, Scaramucci, whose prospective tenure as White House communications director last year ended after an expletive-filled interview that included his own attacks on Bannon, told MSNBC Thursday that he "would like Steve to knock it off and rejoin the team."

Scaramucci defended Trump Jr. against the claims Bannon made in the book, while voicing skepticism about the veracity of the quotes Wolff used in "Fire and Fury."

Harder took a similar approach.

"(Reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements," Harder stated in his letter to Wolff and Henry Holt.

He added that many of the "so-called 'sources'" in the book "have stated publicly that they never spoke to Mr. Wolff and/or never made the statements that are being attributed to them."

On Wednesday, Harder sent a cease and desist letter to Bannon, claiming that he was in breach of a nondisclosure agreement signed during the campaign and demanding he stop making disparaging statements about the president and Trump family members.

This isn't the first media case Harder has handled for the Trumps.

Harder represented Trump's wife, Melania, in a successful suit against a British newspaper, The Daily Mail, and a political blogger last year for "false and tremendously damaging" statements, in which the outlets claimed Mrs. Trump had previously worked as an "escort."