The president-elect plans to use his executive powers to target media organizations that don’t toe the administration line, and to target them for fines and lawsuits, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.
The memo was prepared by a legal team led by lawyer Brian C. Schmitz, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at the law firm of BakerHostetler LLP.
Trump plans to issue executive orders that require broadcasters to either “pay or forfeit” any money or intellectual property they own or license to a third party, and that “sledge hammers” the media for “false and misleading coverage” that “defames, denigrates, or threatens the president, the president-Elect, his family, or his political allies.”
“The president-to-be will use his powers to punish and punish again, and the American people will know when the president will be punishing them,” Schmitze wrote in a letter obtained by the AP.
He said the Trump administration is considering “the possibility of issuing a single executive order, with specific language, to target the media.”
The Trump administration plans to target “the press and the news media who have lied and distorted the facts,” Schmoitte said.
“The goal of the Trump Administration is to intimidate and silence the media.
In order to do this, we will first need to use all available tools to take down and hold accountable those who have misled the American public and the world,” he wrote.
Schmoisi added that the administration is reviewing “potentially damaging” and “unlawful” legislation passed by Congress, such as the Protecting the Press Act of 2017, which would require journalists to disclose sources and methods and to provide reporters with “fair and unbiased” information.
He also criticized a House-passed measure that would have prohibited public broadcasters from airing political advertisements, saying “it would be a terrible abuse of executive power to limit free speech in a manner that does not advance our national security.”
The AP previously reported that Trump is considering hiring former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to run his transition team.
The AP also reported that White House communications director Hope Hicks and the president’s transition spokesman Sean Spicer were on a list of potential transition officials that were vetted by Trump’s transition team, but the White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Schmittz, who previously worked at the Office of Management and Budget and the Justice Department, previously worked for former President George W. Bush, and he has argued in recent years that the First Amendment protects the right to publish unflattering information.
Schmittez previously served as deputy solicitor general for the United States during the George W, Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations.
In 2018, he helped lead a lawsuit challenging Trump’s temporary travel ban, which was later ruled to be constitutional.
The lawsuit also was joined by media organizations, including The Associated News, the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, NPR, and Politico.
AP writer Jonathan Lemire in Washington contributed to this report.