NEW YORK—In response to the Department of Justice filing a motion asking the Court to dismiss PEN America’s lawsuit in defense of the First Amendment, PEN America v. Trump, Protect Democracy and PEN America issued the following statements: 

Kristy Parker, Protect Democracy Counsel: 

“No public official—least of all the President—is allowed to misuse governmental power to retaliate against unfavorable press coverage. As detailed in our complaint, this President has abused the power of his office in numerous ways to lash out at news organizations and journalists simply for doing their jobs. He has pressured the Department of Justice to bring antitrust complaints because of his dislike of CNN, he has ordered changes in postal rates to punish because of its connection to the Washington Post, he has revoked White House press credentials of reporters who ask probing questions, and withdrawn security clearances of experts who criticize him and his policies, among other illegal actions. This President daily confesses the unconstitutional animus underlying these and other retaliatory acts in tweets and other statements. The government’s argument that PEN America lacks standing to assert claims of injury comes as no surprise and is wrong for several reasons. It ignores that PEN America has multiple members who are part of the entities that the President has sought to punish through his abuse of power, that PEN America as an organization has had to expend resources to combat these constitutional abuses, and that presidential threats chill the speech of others as well. As the leader of this nation, the President’s words and actions impact all Americans, and there is no scenario in which the President of the United States should be permitted to disregard the First Amendment. No president can violate the Constitution and then claim he is above the law.”

Suzanne Nossel, PEN America Chief Executive Officer: 

“We’re not surprised by President Trump’s effort to get this case dismissed and protect what he views as his own prerogative to threaten and retaliate against journalists and the media. The threats and actions we are challenging are ongoing, and as they continue, our case grows more compelling. Just last month, The New Yorker reported on the president’s animosity towards CNN, his directives to administration officials to retaliate against them, and his menacing obsession with preventing Time Warner, its parent company, from merging with AT&T. We have continued to see the White House exact reprisals by barring specific members of the media from press events, including during last month’s North Korea summit after the President was peppered with questions about Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress. These retaliatory actions are exactly what we allege in our complaint. The law is clear that the president does not have the right to use the powers of the federal government to retaliate against those who criticize or question him. In the United States of America, journalists should not have to carry out their work under credible fear that the President may retaliate against them for doing their job. We look forward to filing our response to the government’s motion and continuing to defend the free expression rights of our Members.”



PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: [email protected]