Before author Robert Slater had even begun his biography of Donald Trump, he says the real estate mogul had threatened to sue him.
Slater, who wrote a 2005 biography of Trump, No Such Thing as Over-Exposure: Inside the Life and Celebrity of Donald Trump, revealed the tidbit in the lecture at the Library of Congress that same year.
"As soon as I got in touch with Donald Trump — this was in the spring of — and I told his people that I'm writing a book about him, well, in the immediate aftermath I heard nothing from him, which is not unusual," said the author. "It usually takes a few weeks for people to decide what to say to people like me. I'll never forget the moment I opened that email on a Friday morning."
Slater, who died in 2014, said Trump's lawyer said they would stop him from publishing his book through legal action if he continued to research it.
"'We are not cooperating with this book. Let's be very clear about that.' Then the letter went on, 'If you continue to do research on this book,' the exact wording was, 'we may try to enjoin you from publishing that book.'"
In 2006, Trump sued author Timothy O'Brien for libel when the author said his net worth was a mere $250 million. O'Brien eventually won the suit.
Slater said he was shocked at Trump's reaction.
"Now, my first reaction was shock," he said. "I mean, I said to myself, why is anybody threatening to sue me? I am such a nice person. I write decent books about people. I mean, what did I ever do to harm Donald Trump? My next reaction was, oh my God. This man who is worth $2.7 billion and uses litigation as the most lethal weapon in his armory to intimidate people has suddenly focused on Bob Slater as his latest project."
"Of course, I knew that Trump used threatening to sue people as a strategy, but you know, I couldn't guarantee that later on he would drop the lawsuit. As far as I was concerned, this was very serious business," he continued. "And I didn't understand why he was doing it. He didn't know who I was. I mean, that was clear."
Eventually, Slater said, his publisher stood behind him and he went ahead with the book. Trump would end up giving Slater full access to him for the book, even requesting, and Slater agreeing to, take out unflattering details about his divorce from Marla Maples.
The book is sold in Trump Tower today in the lobby.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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