Thiel Lawyer Trying to Squash Story on Trump Hair

Gawker wonders how many other suits Peter Thiel is secretly funding
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2016 9:33 AM CDT
Thiel Lawyer Trying to Squash Story on Trump Hair
In this March 8, 2012, file photo, Peter Thiel speaks in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

PayPal founder Peter Thiel admits wanting to take out Gawker, but he's been less than forthcoming about which other cases he's helped fund—and a recent legal letter that demands Gawker stop reporting on Donald Trump's hair gives one pause on that question. In what the Verge calls a "mind-boggling wrinkle in an already stranger-than-fiction legal tussle," JK Trotter reports that Thiel "lawyer-for-hire" Charles J. Harder sent Gawker a letter last week railing against Ashley Feinberg's investigative piece on Edward Ivari and his company, Ivari International, which may have given Trump his "$60,000 weave." Harding's letter takes issue with the hair-extension expose, saying the "false and defamatory" story—he lists what he says are 19 different defamatory statements—invaded Ivari's privacy and caused emotional distress, and threatens legal action if certain conditions aren't met.

Trotter, not unsurprisingly, calls his claims "ridiculous" and annotates his letter with its own rebuttals (even though he initially said Gawker wasn't going to post the "confidential" letter for fear of "distracting litigation"). But more pressing for Gawker than "the absurdity of Harder's threats" is the "underlying mission of the man who pays him: To intimidate Gawker and its reporters from publishing true things about public figures." Trotter notes Harder has pursued (and is pursuing) other cases against Gawker. As for Harder's demands that Gawker take down the Trump hair story, apologize, and give up Feinberg's sources, the annotations on Harder's letter addresses those points with a big ol' (paraphrased) "nope." What Gawker does agree to with a cheerful "Will do!" is Harder's demand to "immediately preserve" all emails, texts, and other correspondence related to the story. (Politico lists everyone currently suing Gawker.)

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