WASHINGTON • A lawyer representing US President Donald Trump sought to stop the publication of a new behind-the-scenes book about the White House that has already led Mr Trump to angrily decry his former chief strategist Stephen Bannon.
The legal notice - addressed yesterday to author Michael Wolff and the president of the book's publisher - said Mr Trump's lawyers were pursuing possible charges, including libel, in connection with the forthcoming book Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House.
The letter by lawyer Charles Harder demanded that the publisher, Henry Holt and Co, "immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book" or excerpts and summaries of its contents.
The lawyers also seek a full copy of the book, which has soared to No. 1 on Amazon.com's best-selling books list even before its scheduled release on Tuesday, as part of their investigation.
The latest twist in the showdown came after lawyers accused Mr Bannon of breaching a confidentiality agreement and Mr Trump denounced his former aide as a self-aggrandising political charlatan who has "lost his mind".
Mr Bannon was quoted in the book disparaging the President's children, asserting that Mr Donald Trump Jr had been "treasonous" in meeting Russians months before the presidential election, and calling Ms Ivanka Trump "dumb as a brick".
The meeting was held after the Russians promised damaging information on Mr Trump's rival, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mr Trump had relied heavily on Mr Bannon, chairman of the right-wing Breitbart News website, for advice in the months leading up to his upset victory in the November 2016 election. He then gave Mr Bannon a strategic role in the White House, where he became a divisive figure before being fired in August.
Mr Bannon returned to Breitbart and continued to talk with Mr Trump. The public rupture between the President and his one-time confidant could have lasting political impact on the November mid-term elections and beyond.
The schism could test whether Mr Trump or Mr Bannon has more resonance with the conservative base that has sustained the President through a tumultuous tenure marked by low poll numbers.
Mr Trump, described by his spokesman as "furious, disgusted", fired back on Wednesday by saying that Mr Bannon had "lost his mind".
In a written statement, the President excoriated Mr Bannon as a self-promoting exaggerator who had "very little to do with our historic victory" in the 2016 presidential election, and was "only in it for himself".
"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency," Mr Trump said. "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."
Cheering the breakup on Wednesday were establishment Republicans, who resent Mr Bannon's bomb-throwing style and his vows to wage war on incumbent lawmakers in the party primaries this year.
By afternoon, candidates whom Mr Bannon has endorsed in a handful of races faced pressure to disavow his remarks about the President's son.
Mr Bannon called President Trump "a great man" late on Wednesday night, hours after the cease-and-desist letter was sent, and said he supported him "day in and day out", in comments on Breitbart News' radio show.
It was apparently the only reference to the explosive day in a two-hour show otherwise devoted to immigration.
NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST