Trump Strikes Back: Sues Univision Over Miss USA Broadcast for $500 Million

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Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remarks on the campaign trail have already begun to have an impact on his business partnerships, and he is countering the widespread opposition with legal action against several former allies.

Because of controversial remarks about immigration, a number of companies have recently severed their ties with Trump. These include the Spanish-language television network Univision, NBC and Macy’s according to the WSJ report.  Trump, known primarily as a real estate mogul, television personality and businessman, announced he was running for the office of President of the United States last month.

The comments were made as a part of Trump’s announcement that he was seeking the 2016 presidential nomination from the Republican Party.

The Controversial Comments

During the June 16 press conference when Trump announced his candidacy, he outlined his stance on immigration. He has long spoken out on his feelings that undocumented immigrants increase crime rates. The June 16 statement, however, took this stance a step further, accusing illegal immigrants of associating with rapists, drug addicts and criminals.

“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people, but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting,” he was quoted on CSPAN.

Watch his announcement speech and hear exactly what he said below:

 

 

Univision Pulls Out, Trump Files: $500M “Major Lawsuit”

The Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, sponsored by the Miss Universe Organization co-owned by Trump and NBC Universal, were scheduled to be broadcast on both NBC and Univision. Univision, however, announced it would not be airing the July 12 Miss USA pageant because of Trump’s recent remarks that network leaders felt insulted Mexican immigrants.

Trump announced on June 30 that his legal team had filed a 19-page lawsuit against Univision asking for $500 million in restitution. The suit claims that Univision pulled its support of the pageants in order to stifle Trump’s campaign, violating his freedom of speech.

The lawsuit also claims that the principal owner of the network, Haim Saban, is a supporter of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

In addition to the lawsuit, the New York Post reports that Trump’s lawyers sent Univision a letter on July 7 demanding that the cable channel create a reserve fund in order to cover the possible $500 million at risk if he receives a judgement in the case. According to the letter written by Jeffrey L. Goldman, Trump’s attorney, Univision is in financial peril, with more than $10 billion in debt.

Univision has announced an upcoming IPO, expected to fetch at least $100 million according to Forbes. Whether or not Trump’s suit will delay or otherwise affect the IPO is yet to be seen, but the channel doesn’t seem concerned in its filing. The paperwork filed in advance of the IPO says that the company isn’t currently involved in any legal disputes that can “reasonably be expected to have a material effect on our business, financial condition or operations.”

The lawsuit explained in Trump’s statement made public on social media:
 

 


My just filed lawsuit against Univision. Always fight back when right. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

 

Macy’s Makes A Move To Cut Ties

Univision wasn’t the first company to cut its ties with Trump after the controversial statements. Macy’s pulled his menswear line from stores after more than 725,000 people signed a petition created on Moveon.org according to the Washington Post.

The store had carried the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection of suits, shirts and ties since 2004. 

Ironically, as thousands of social media users have claimed, many of these items are made in Mexico. In announcing the decision to honor the petition, Macy’s official statement claimed that the statements made by Trump on immigration were “inconsistent with Macy’s values” of inclusion and diversity.

“We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation,” the statement said.

Trump responds:

  My recent statement re: @macys — We must have strong borders & stop illegal immigration now! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain   A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on



 

NBC Severs Business Partnership

Just one day before Trump’s lawyers filed the Univision suit, NBC also announced it was dropping its support of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Like Univision, they also cited the comments Trump has made on immigration. The network also pulled all other ties with Trump, although he had previously announced he would no longer host reality hit “The Apprentice” while on the campaign trail.

While the offense is similar to the action taken by Univision, Trump has not filed litigation against NBC at this time. This is due to a contractual arbitration agreement in the contract between the two parties, according to a CNN interview with a member of Trump’s legal team.

According the the lawyer, Alan Garten, NBC has violated the terms of the contract, and action will be taken according to the constraints set forth in the contract. Because NBCUniversal also owns 50 percent of the rights to the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, there will likely be more to this story.  Attorney Garten even hinted in the interview that litigation may be required to settle the dispute.

See the full interview with Trump’s lawyer Alan Gerten discussing the case here:
 


 
  Mr. Trump responds:

  Statement on Relationship with NBC-   A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on



 

Further Litigation Expected?

In addition to major, long-term business partnerships faltering, the firestorm continues to rage over Trump’s statements. Three weeks after the June 16 press conference, ESPN, PGA and NASCAR have all canceled events at Trump properties, and a well-known restaurateur pulled out of a planned location in a newly constructed hotel according to the LA Times.

Both ESPN and the PGA had scheduled golf tournaments on courses owned by Trump, while NASCAR had scheduled its annual banquet in a Trump hotel ballroom in November. Only time will tell if further lawsuits are filed by Trump over these or any further cancellations to be announced.

 

Last Laugh?

Despite a firestorm of controversy, media attention and corporate cancellations recent national polls have seen Donald Trump surging in his campaign for president according to Yahoo news.  At the time of this writing he is leading in the race for the Republican nomination, and the daily headlines haven’t hurt his presidential ambitions and his popularity looks stronger than ever.

 

This is what 15,000 people looks like.

A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on



 
(Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

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