Election Season Law: The Offline and Online Legal Threats of Donald Trump

As you certainly know, real estate mogul turned reality star, Donald Trump, is running for president. And though the “fire-happy” billionaire is a hit amongst some people, not everyone is enamored by his personality – including Fox News, an anti-tax initiative and an online e-tailer.

Donald Trump, Presidential Campaign 2016

But in true Donald fashion, he is not taking the criticism quietly. Instead, he’s lashing back via Twitter and threatening lawsuits.

Is the presidential hopeful on the right side of his current feuds? Or are his legal assertions just political theatrics?

Fox News Faux Pas Elicits FCC Demand From Trump

Perhaps unexpectedly, one of Trump’s main rivals is Fox Newser, Rich Lowry. A few weeks back, Lowry took some pot shots at Trump over his now famous remarks about Carlie Fiorina’s face. Let’s just say that Lowry made a metaphor alluding to Trump that involved part of the male anatomy. Trump didn’t take kindly to the insult – nor did he let it slide. Instead, he sent out a tweet admonishing Lowry and informed the world that he “won’t be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.” Trump also expressed his desire for the FCC to fine Fox for Lowry’s comment.

Does Trump have a point? Was Lowry’s statement bad enough to warrant an FCC fine? Bluntly stated: probably not. Though crude, the comment was not FCC finable.

Trump Tax Slander?

Trump’s second recent public reputation brawl was with Club for Growth, a citizen group interested in lowering taxes.

Club for Growth produced a political attack ad lambasting Trump for allegedly supporting “higher taxes.” Apparently, the group garnered its information from statements the now-politician made in the past. The video was released before Trump’s latest tax plan for this upcoming election.

Instead of sweating out the attack ad, Trump issued a cease and desist letter. An excerpt:

Making matters worse, you then chose to appear on several talk shows, including MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in which you furthered the erroneous notion that Mr. Trump “supports higher taxes” even though you have absolutely no factual support for that statement. In other words, you lied. Mr. Trump does not support higher taxes. This is the very definition of libel.

How did Club for Growth respond? With a tweet that simply said “stop whining.”

The chances of Trump winning a slander lawsuit over the ad is between slim and none.

The Donald’s Cybersquatting Crusade

Trump is also battling with a website, StopTrump.us. The site is selling “Donald is Dumb” t-shirts. Which, I am sure you can imagine, has awoken the ire of Mr. Trump. So, he did what he does, and got his attorneys on the case.

His lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to the StopTrump team. In it, Donald’s legal eagles accused the group of trademark infringement. Essentially, cybersquatting. The letter also offered the anti-Trump group a “one-time opportunity” to hand over the domain, without suffering any financial consequences.

Here’s the rub: “Donald is Dumb” t-shirts are acceptable forms of political action, as is the “stoptrump” URL. Both are examples of protected free speech.

Further Reading and Attorney Contact

To read more about cybersquatting, click here. To read more about free speech versus defamation head here. If you landed on this page because you’re in search of an Internet law attorney that handles both cybersquatting and online defamation issues, get in touch with either Aaron Kelly or Dan Warner, Attorney of Kelly / Warner law.

Photo by By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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