US President Donald Trump is taking legal action in a desperate attempt to prevent the publication of an explosive book that includes allegations of treason and lifts the lid on an apparently dysfunctional White House.
Charles Harder, an attorney representing the President, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House author Michael Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt, on Thursday night
The legal letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNN on Friday morning (AEDT), demanded that the publisher “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of the book, which is due for release on January 9.
Excerpts of the book have already been published by various outlets featuring damaging insights into the 2016 presidential campaign and Mr Trump’s presidency.
Among the candid interviews were assertions from former chief strategist Steve Bannon that a June 2016 meeting with a group of Russians at Trump Tower in New York was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.
Other revelations include claims that Mr Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration and visibly fought with his wife Melania who seemed on the verge of tears.
CNN quoted legal experts as saying an actual lawsuit was highly unlikely.
Mr Trump has separately threatened his Mr Bannon with legal action over “defamatory” statements about Mr Trump’s son and son-in-law over the meeting.
Mr Trump cut ties with Mr Bannon on Wednesday, saying his former adviser had “lost his mind” in a blistering statement issued after reports of the comments in Fire and Fury.
The Trump Tower meeting, held after the Russians promised damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was attended by Donald Trump Jr, Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, who was the Trump’s campaign chairman at the time.
Lawyers for the President sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon on Wednesday.
They said in the letter that Mr Bannon had breached an agreement by communicating with Mr Wolff about Mr Trump, his family and the campaign, and made disparaging remarks about the President and his family.
“Legal action is imminent,” Trump’s personal lawyer Charles Harder said in a statement, according to media reports.
Mr Bannon told a caller on Breitbart News radio Thursday night that Mr Trump was a “great man” and “nothing will ever come between us and President Trump and his agenda”.
Mr Trump was not mollified.
“I don’t know, he called me a great man last night so, you know he obviously changed his tune pretty quick,” the President said Friday morning.
On Thursday, the White House said no personal devices, including mobile phones, would be allowed in the West Wing beginning next week for security purposes.
The moves followed the Bannon split, but had been considered for some time.
Mr Trump had relied heavily on Mr Bannon, chairman of the right-wing Breitbart News website, for advice in the months leading up to his upset victory in the November 2016 election.
He then gave Mr Bannon a strategic role in the White House, where he became a divisive figure before being fired in August.
Mr Bannon returned to Breitbart and continued to talk with Mr Trump.
Mr Trump’s statement also diminished Mr Bannon’s role in the election victory and accused him of leaking to the media.
– With agencies