The Lincoln Project hit out at Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner on Saturday after the couple threatened to sue the political action committee for putting up billboards in New York City's Times Square. The legal team representing the Lincoln Project wrote a strongly-worded letter to the couple's lawyer reminding that Ivanka and Kushner were "public officials" and Americans had the right to criticize to them freely.
On Friday, the couple's attorney Marc E. Kasowitz wrote to the Lincoln Project calling for the removal of the billboards or face a lawsuit that would result in "enormous compensatory and punitive damages."
Kasowitz attempted to clarify that a statement was falsely attributed to Kushner. One of the displays showed a smiling photo of President Donald Trump's son-in-law alongside a quote: "[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that's their problem."
Terming the legal threat "frivolous," the Lincoln Project's legal team drew up a three-page response and told the couple's lawyer to "peddle your scare tactics elsewhere." Attorney Matthew Sanderson representing the political action committee wrote to Kasowitz maintaining that Ivanka and Kushner were "public officials" and have been so "since President Trump, in a gross act of nepotism, awarded" them senior White House positions in 2017.
"Americans have the right to discuss and criticize their public officials freely. ... Public officials have periodically tried, as Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump do here, to evade accountability and muzzle dissent by threatening or filing defamation lawsuits against critics," Sanderson wrote.
The attorney also said that the Lincoln Project's billboards "in any event, are entirely accurate." Sanderson directed Kasowitz to Vanity Fair's September article, in which a source told the publication that Kushner criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying: "Cuomo didn't pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state.... His people are going to suffer and that's their problem."
Sanderson also debunked Kasowitz's claim that Ivanka "never made any such gesture" as showed in the billboard alongside the number of New Yorkers and Americans who died due to Covid-19. He stated that Ivanka "infamously endorsed a commercial product" in July "by posting herself with a photo of holding" a can of Goya Black Beans. The endorsement was "in violation of federal ethic rules," he noted.
Sanderson stated: "... so, sue if you must. In the meantime, may I suggest that if Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump are genuinely concerned about salvaging their reputations, they would do well to stop suppressing truthful criticism and instead turn their attention to the Covid-19 crisis that is still unfolding under their inept watch. These billboards are not causing Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump's standing with the public to plummet. Their incompetence is."
What is The Lincoln Project?
The Lincoln Project is a political action committee founded by ex-Republicans in December 2019 to prevent the re-election of President Trump in the Nov. 3 election. The group announced its launch through a New York Times opinion piece. The group's founders George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson wrote that their goal was "stem the damage [Trump] and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character," and that the move "transcends partisanship."
In May, the group released a minute-long video titled 'Mourning in America' — a play upon former President Ronald Reagan's famous re-election slogan 'Morning in America.' The video criticized the Trump administration for failing to contain the Covid-19 spread in the initial months of the pandemic.