Trump seeking to block US release of film that portrays him as a rapist

Sebastian Stan as a young Donald Trump in the movie The Apprentice
Sebastian Stan as a young Donald Trump in the movie The Apprentice - APPRENTICE PRODUCTIONS ONTARIO INC. / PROFILE PRODUCTIONS 2 APS / TAILORED FILMS LTD. 2023

Donald Trump’s lawyers are attempting to block the US release of a film that shows the former president raping his first wife.

Mr Trump’s legal team sent a cease and desist letter to the producers of The Apprentice, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday and depicts his rise to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The movie presents itself as a factual biography of Mr. Trump, yet nothing could be further from the truth,” Trump lawyer David A. Warrington wrote to the film’s director and writer on Wednesday.

“It is a concoction of lies that repeatedly defames President Trump and constitutes direct foreign interference in America’s elections.”

The screenwriter, Gabriel Sherman, is accused in the letter of repeatedly attacking the former president in magazine columns and suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome”.

One controversial scene shows Mr Trump raping his first wife, Ivana Trump, who made the claim during their divorce proceedings. He allegedly did so in a fit of rage after he underwent surgery to cover a bald spot using a surgeon she had recommended.

Mrs Trump recanted the claim three years later, saying she did not mean “rape” in a “criminal or literal sense”. She said she felt “violated” by what took place, however.

Donald Trump's lawyers are attempting to block the US release of the film
Donald Trump's lawyers are attempting to block the US release of the film - Mark Peterson/Pool Redux Pictures

Dan Snyder, the billionaire businessman who funded the film believing its portrayal of Mr Trump would be positive, is reportedly preparing his own cease-and-desist letter.

The producers of The Apprentice said in response to the threatened legal action: “The film is a fair and balanced portrait of the former president. We want everyone to see it and then decide.”

At a press conference for the film in Cannes, director Ali Abbasi said: “Donald’s team should watch the movie before they start suing us.

“Everyone’s always talking about him suing a lot of people. They don’t talk about his success rate, though.”

Mr Abbasi went on to offer to screen the film for the former president, speculating: “I don’t necessarily think that this is a movie he would dislike.”

Stephen Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, vowed on Monday to “address the blatantly false assertions from these pretend film-makers”.

“This garbage is pure fiction which sensationalises lies that have been long debunked,” he told Variety magazine on Monday.

“This ‘film’ is pure malicious defamation, should not see the light of day, and doesn’t even deserve a place in the straight-to-DVD section of a bargain bin at a soon-to-be-closed discount movie store. It belongs in a dumpster fire.”

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