An attorney for The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump GOP group, sent a scathing legal response Saturday to a lawsuit threat over a pair of attack ads against Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner on billboards in Times Square.
The billboards skewer Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law for their callous indifference to the COVID-19 death toll in America, which now stands at nearly 225,000.
The Lincoln Project received a letter Friday from lawyer Marc Kasowitz, representing the White House senior advisers, demanding that the “false, malicious and defamatory” ads be removed or “we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”
The responding missive from Lincoln Project attorney Matthew Sanderson fired back: “Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster.”
Sanderson added: “Your clients are no longer Upper East Side socialites, able to sue at the slightest offense to their personal sensitivities.” They are “public officials” due to a “gross act of nepotism” when Donald Trump made them both White House advisers.
Americans “have the right to discuss and criticize their public officials freely,” Sanderson schools Kasowitz, citing a Supreme Court ruling defending even “vehement, caustic and ... unpleasantly sharp attacks” of government officials.
In addition, the attack ads are “entirely accurate,” Sanderson noted. Kasowitz had claimed that Kushner never said, as the billboard notes, that it’s “their problem” that New Yorkers are suffering from COVID-19.
Vanity Fair reported in September that Kushner had complained that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) didn’t plead hard enough with the White House to get coronavirus protective gear for his state. “His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem,” Kushner is quoted as saying in the article.
Kasowitz also insisted that Ivanka Trump “never made the gesture” on the ad which shows her smiling over the COVID-19 death toll.
Sanderson pointed out that the ad utilized a Twitter photo in which Ivanka posed with a can of Goya beans in July after the company CEO praised her dad. Huckstering for Goya violated federal ethics rules for a White House official, he added.
"She never made that gesture" pic.twitter.com/l49iEgzIB9
— 🌋 Kill-ohana 👻 🔪🩸 (@KilohanaKona) October 24, 2020
Ivanka Trump’s “bruised self-image does not change the fact that this billboard accurately depicts her support of a federal response that has utterly failed to prevent an unmitigated tragedy for the United States,” Sanderson snapped.
The Lincoln Project is looking forward to deposing all relevant witnesses and a courtroom confrontation, so “sue if you must,” Sanderson challenged.
Kasowitz has yet to respond. Critics have noted that the lawsuit threat has likely drawn millions more viewers to the ad online.
Sanderson’s entire response can be read here:
The Lincoln Project’s legal response to the frivolous threat of a lawsuit from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s lawyer.
This will not be the last they hear from us. pic.twitter.com/GNnFsnsCer
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) October 24, 2020
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.