MANHATTAN (CN) – Days after routing the competition in New Hampshire’s Republican primary, billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump put one legal battle behind him by quietly settling his $500 million lawsuit against Univision for dumping his Miss America pageant.
Univision was one of many companies that cut ties with Trump after he turned the announcement of his campaign into an inflammatory rant about Mexicans.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you,” Trump said this past June. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump’s nativist platform scared off not only the Spanish-language TV network Univision but also 20 other companies including NBC, ESPN, NASCAR and Macy’s, which later dropped the billionaire’s clothing line.
Refusing to believe that revulsion to his remarks inspired the outcry, Trump, true to form, saw a darker, deeper conspiracy at work.
In a June 30 lawsuit, Trump claimed that the real reason Univision dropped his beauty pageant was because the network’s owner, fellow tycoon Haim Saban, is a supporter of Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton.
The lawsuit accused Univision of trying, at Saban’s behest, to “suppress Mr. Trump’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment as he begins to campaign for the nation’s presidency and, in recent weeks, has dramatically risen in the polls while expressing critical views of Mrs. Clinton.”
In December, Univision’s lawyer Randy Mastro of the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher found a simpler explanation for the network’s snub in a motion to dismiss.
“Of all the companies that fired him, Trump has focused on suing Univision, the most prominent company with a Hispanic identity, and one of its executives, a Mexican immigrant,” the scathing 33-page brief said.
In a separate allegation, Trump said the network’s president of programming Alberto Ciurana defamed him by posting a photograph of him on Instagram side-by-side with Charleston shooter Dylan Roof, who currently awaits trial for murdering nine people in an historic black church.
The image showed Trump and Roof’s scowling mugshots and bouffant hairdos with the caption “No Comments.”
Mastro also ridiculed this charge as “beyond frivolous” and the legal equivalent of a “Hail-Mary” pass.
“The fact that Trump is too ‘thin-skinned’ to endure the kind of lampooning that has typified presidential campaigns since the founding of the Republic does not entitle him to pursue a judgment and $500 million in alleged damages,” Mastro wrote.
District Judge John Koeltl repeatedly postponed arguments on this motion to accommodate Trump’s presidential campaign, which has gone on to offend women, Muslims, Jews, black people and others.
As the parties expected to meet on Thursday, Univision announced on its website that it had reached a confidential settlement with Trump.
Trump exchanged pleasantries with the network’s president in similarly cordial statements.
“I have known Univision’s President and CEO, Randy Falco, for more than 20 years and I’m glad we are able to put these differences behind us,” the Republican front-runner said.
Perhaps to the chagrin of Univision’s Mexican viewers, Falco replied: “I have known Donald Trump for many years in both a personal and professional capacity and we are pleased to settle this matter and move forward.”
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