Former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization threatened to sue the Pulitzer Committee demanding the organization revoke the 2018 journalism awards from the Washington Post and New York Times.
This office represents President Donald J. Trump. In a letter dated October 3, 2021, a copy of which is annexed hereto for your reference, President Trump called your attention to the Pulitzer Prize Board’s erroneous decision to award The New York Times and The Washington Post with the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.
As highlighted in President Trump’s letter, it has recently become apparent that the subject articles were based on incontrovertibly false information provided by dubious sources who were maliciously attempting to mislead the public and tarnish our client’s reputation. These sources are now facing criminal charges for their illicit conduct. On September 16, 2021, attorney Michael Sussman was charged with providing false statements to the FBI when he reported potential incidents of cooperation between our client and Russia. It has now been revealed that he was acting at the behest of the Clinton Campaign and that the accusations made by him were entirely fabricated.
Thereafter, on November 3, 2021, another analyst associated with the Clinton Campaign, Igor Danchenko, was charged with making false statements to the FBI. Specifically, it is alleged that Mr. Danchenko, who has been identified as a key contributor to the widely debunked “Steele Dossier,” lied to the FBI when he denied colluding with the Clinton Campaign in providing his contributions to same. Despite these revelations, the Pulitzer Prize Board has failed to take any action to correct, retract, or otherwise repudiate the false reporting contained in the subject articles.
Even one of the recipients of the award, The Washington Post, has acknowledged the unsubstantiated nature of its reporting as it relates to these events. Specifically, on November 12, 2021, The Post retracted statements from several articles relating to the Steele Dossier and the alleged Russia-Trump connection and its executive editor proclaimed that “The Post could no longer stand by the accuracy of those elements of the story.”
On the same day, The Post also published an op-ed authored by one of its columnists calling for CNN to retract its coverage of the Steele Dossier, noting that “[t]he Danchenko indictment contextualizes the flimsiness” of the document and pointing to such misleading coverage as an example of why “many people mistrust CNN.”
Meanwhile, the Pulitzer Prize website still maintains that the subject articles were “deeply
sourced” and refers to “Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration.” By failing to remove these statements, revoke the award, or even publicly comment on the illegitimate nature of the works, the Pulitzer Prize Board is actively advancing the false narrative contained therein and promoting defamatory statements against our client.
Based on the foregoing, it is hereby demanded that the Pulitzer Prize Board take immediate steps to strip the New York Times and The Washington Post of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Pulitzer Prize Board’s failure to do so will result in prompt legal action being taken against it. Please be guided accordingly.
Furthermore, please be advised that the Pulitzer Prize Board is under a legal duty to retain and not destroy or alter in any way any and all evidence, records, documents, notes, summaries, memoranda and/or data, including electronic information, that may be relevant to our client’s potential claims.
For purposes of this notice, electronic information, data or evidence shall include, but not be limited to, all text files (including word processing documents), presentation files (such as PowerPoint), financial data, spreadsheets, e-mail correspondences, e-mail files, and information concerning e-mail communications and files (including logs of e-mail history and use, header information, and deleted files), internet history files and preferences, graphical files in any format, databases, calendar, and scheduling information, task lists, voicemails, text messaging, app-based messaging, instant messaging, and other electronic communications, telephone logs, contact managers, computer system activity logs, and all file fragments, internet use files, offline storage,nor information stored on removable or storage media, information contained on computers, laptops, cell phones, I-Pads or other portable devices, network access information, and backup files containing electronic data or evidence.
Specifically, the Pulitzer Prize Board is instructed not to destroy, disable, erase, encrypt, alter, or otherwise make unavailable any electronic data and evidence relevant to our client’s potential claims, and the Pulitzer Prize Board is instructed further to take reasonable efforts to preserve such data and evidence.
To meet this burden, the Pulitzer Prize Board is instructed by way of example and not limitation, to preserve any photographs, videotapes, or audio evidence; preserve all data storage backup files (i.e., not overwrite any previously existing backups); preserve and retain all electronic data generated or received by the Pulitzer Prize Board and any of its members, employees, agents, associates, officials or any third parties who may have personal knowledge of the facts related to our client’s claims as set forth above; refrain from operating, removing, or altering, fixed or external drives and media attached to any workstations or laptops, voicemail systems, and cell phones, copy machines that are reasonably thought to have data related to the claims; preserve and retain all data from servers and networking equipment that log network access activity and system authentication; preserve and retain all electronic data in any format, media, or location relating to the claims, including data on hard drives, hard disks, floppy disks, zip drives, CD-ROMs, CD-RWs, DVDs, backup tapes, PDAs, cell phones, smartphones, memory cards/sticks, or digital copiers or facsimile machines; safeguard against the automatic deletion, expiration or overwriting of any electronic data related to our client’s potential claims, and take such other security measures, including, but not limited to, restricting physical and electronic access to all data stored electronically that are related, directly or indirectly, to our client’s potential claims.
Failure to take all reasonable steps towards preserving any evidence will expose the Pulitzer Prize Board to civil liability for the spoliation and/or destruction of evidence. Any direction to any other person, potential party or entity to do the same will result in an additional claim against the Pulitzer Prize Board and that party.
See the full letter here.