MANHATTAN (CN) – Emphasizing that he has long been outspoken on illegal immigration, Donald Trump claims in a $500 million lawsuit that Univision dumped his Miss Universe pageant because its owner supports Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s June 30 lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court comes five days after Univision decided to server ties with Miss Universe, a little more than a week after the tycoon announced on June 16 that he is running for president.
The Republican’s campaign speech shocked many with its emphasis on what the lawsuit sanitizes as “calls for immigration reform.”
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you,” Trump said. “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.”
Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States, called the remarks “insulting” when it turned Trump’s “you’re fired” catch phrase around on him.
“At Univision, we see first-hand the work ethic, love for family, strong religious values and the important role Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans have had and will continue to have in building the future of our country,” the broadcaster said in a June 25 statement. “We will not be airing the Miss USA pageant on July 12th or working on any other projects tied to the Trump Organization.”
NBC followed suit on Monday in a statement denouncing Trump’s “derogatory statements” and affirming the company’s support for the “respect and dignity for all people.”
Trump’s lawsuit names both Univision and its president of programming Alberto Ciurana as defendants.
While the 17-page filing has not yet appeared in the public record, a leaked copy quickly found its way on the New York Post’s Page Six and the gossip site Deadline Hollywood on the heels of an announcement by the Trump Organization.
With Macy’s dropping Trump’s clothing line on Wednesday, the litigation apparently has not scared other former partners of Trump from jumping ship.
Trump’s lawsuit calls Univision’s action a “thinly veiled attempt” by its owner Haim Saban 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.”
Citing the conservative National Review, Trump said that Saban donated $30.5 million to the Clinton Foundation at the time Hillary served as secretary of the U.S. State Department.
“Little else can explain Univision’s decision to not only abandon its contractual relationship with MUO, but also, upon information and belief, pressure NBC to follow suit and cut longstanding ties with plaintiffs nearly two weeks after the statements were made,” Trump’s complaint states.
Pointing out that his rhetoric about Mexican immigrants is “nothing new,” the face of “The Apprentice” notes that he made similar remarks four years ago on Fox News.
On March 30, 2011, Trump told Bill O’Reilly that Mexicans are “coming over and they’re climbing over a fence, and there’s nobody within 10 miles – and they’re selling drugs all over the place, they’re killing people all over the place – and we’re not doing anything about it.”
Trump even hedged his remarks similarly in that interview, he notes.
“You have some great, productive people — and then you have some total disasters that probably should be in prison,” Trump told O’Reilly.
Trump claims that Univision breached a five-year agreement to broadcast the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe competitions in the “United States (including Puerto Rico) and Canada.”
He alleges that the broadcaster’s announcement that it would not announce the pageant constitutes defamation because the company had no right to terminate their relationship and did not serve formal notice at that time.
The Donald also lashed out against Ciurana for posting “tasteless and defamatory” photos comparing Trump with alleged Charleston shooter Dylan Roof on his Instagram account on June 25.
“While Mr. Cuirana would later remove the defamatory post, the damage was already done: almost immediately, Mr. Ciurana’s post was picked up by the media and became the subject of hundreds, if not thousands, of press articles, yet another example of Univision’s dubious efforts to create a false narrative in an attempt to upset Mr. Trump’s longstanding personal and business relationship with the Hispanic community,” the complaint states.
In addition to breach of contract, Trump alleges bad faith, intentional interference with a contractual relationship and defamation. He is represented by Jeffrey Goldman with Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman LLP.
Although Univision did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Politico quoted a spokesperson Tuesday as calling Trump’s lawsuit “both factually false and legally ridiculous.”
“Our decision to end our business relationship with Mr. Trump was influenced solely by our responsibility to speak up for the community we serve,” the spokesperson reportedly said.
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