As detailed in a prior article, Donald Trump has posted a series of appallingly cruel tweets attacking his media nemesis Joe Scarborough. The tweets falsely imply Scarborough might be guilty of murdering an intern (Lori Klausutis) who died of natural causes in 2001 (Scarborough was five states away at the time of her death). The prior article discusses the widower of Lori Klausutis (Timothy Klausutis) and his eloquent words pleading with Twitter’s CEO to delete Trump’s tweets. The CEO of Twitter refused, apologizing for not being able to do so and the pain the tweets caused the family of Lori Klausutis.
Recently, an opinion piece in the New York Times argued that Trump’s tweets constitute the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against Timothy Klausutis. While I have retired from the practice of law and no longer maintain an active license, this prompted me to question what I would do if I represented Timothy Klausutis. I determined that I would send a letter to the counsel for the President demanding that President Trump cease and desist his exploitive smears against my client’s dead wife.
That cease and desist letter might read something like this:
Dear Counsel for President of the United States Donald Trump,
I represent Timothy Klausutis, and other members of the Klausutis family, who have been harmed by your client’s false and intentionally cruel insinuations about the death Lori Klausutis. Contrary to your client’s malicious tweets, there is no “cold case” in regard to the death of my client’s wife. There is no case at all.
President Trump, in his zeal to smear Joe Scarborough, has also smeared the memory of my client’s wife. As you undoubtedly know, my client wrote a letter to the CEO of Twitter pleading for your client’s painful tweets to be removed. The CEO of Twitter declined, even while apologizing for the pain your client’s tweets caused my client.
As my client told the CEO of Twitter, “the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong him — the memory of my dead wife and perverted it for perceived political gain.” Even after this letter was widely publicized, President Trump, with knowledge of the pain it causes my client, again tweeted his heinous allegations.
This must stop. This letter is formal notice to you that your client’s actions constitute the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress against Timothy Klausutis and others in the Klausutis family. On behalf of my client I am demanding that your client cease and desist further references to his wife’s death on Twitter or in any other public venue.
This demand is made without waiving any existing rights for legal action against the President. However, if the President disregards this demand I will urge my client to fully exercise his legal rights to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and any other applicable torts, in a court of appropriate jurisdiction. I am sure you understand that under well established Supreme Court precedent your client is not immune to civil liability even as a sitting President. I ask that you make that clear to your client as well.
Timothy Klausutis is not asking for much. He requests that the President of the United States merely forego deliberate, malicious cruelty toward him. Mr. Klausutis never remarried and he still lives in the house he and Lori called home 20 years ago. Please ask your client to be a human being first and a politician second. If your client is incapable of that, I will zealously attempt to see our legal system order appropriate compensation from your client. President Trump is free to fight his war with Mr. Scarborough in ways that do not torture Timothy Klausutis with lies about his wife’s death.