In response to the sale of interview tapes, former president Donald Trump filed a $49 million lawsuit against investigative journalist Bob Woodward and his publisher on Monday.
Trump asserts that he agreed to the recording of the interviews for the purpose of publishing a book or story but objected to their publication to the public. He charges copyright violations and undue financial gain from the audio against Woodward, his publisher Simon & Schuster, and Paramount Global, the parent firm.
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“The central issue in this lawsuit concerns Mr. Woodward’s systematic usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation of audio of President Trump that was obtained in conjunction with a number of conversations that Mr. Woodward conducted. Trump’s attorneys claimed in a complaint that the aforementioned audio was protected content with a number of usage and distribution restrictions.
Trump took part in at least 19 interviews with Woodward, starting with his 2016 presidential campaign and continuing through the time between December 2019 and August 2020 when Woodward was writing his book Rage, which was published following the final interview. The Trump Tapes, an audiobook of those interviews, was released in October by Simon & Schuster.
“As he clearly realizes, journalist Bob Woodward never had my consent to make tapes of my several interviews with him public. Those tapes were only permitted in order to ensure that he accurately captured my quotations and assertions for “the WRITTEN WORD,” or for his book, which is still wildly wrong. The tapes are far superior than the book, Trump opined on his Truth Social platform the previous year.
The complaint mentioned that Woodward’s book Fear: Trump in the White House, which was published in 2018 before Rage in 2020, sold over 2 million copies, and predicted the audiotapes may achieve a similar level of success. The Trump Tapes audiobooks cost $24.99 each. The $50 million request for damages by Trump’s legal team was calculated by multiplying the two figures.
Trump’s legal team claims that in addition to publishing the audio without his permission, Woodward and his publisher edited the files to damage the former president’s reputation.
The answers provided by President Trump, in which he has a copyright interest, “seem to have been extremely liberated with, far from being a ‘raw’ and unedited recording, and the answers were manipulated to alter President Trump’s language as well as to support the particular narrative desired by Woodward, SSI, and Paramount,” the complaint continued.
The Northern District of Florida U.S. District Court received the complaint. The audiobooks had previously been defended by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Woodward, who said that the recordings had been made “on the record” and “voluntarily.”
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