(New York, NY) – Donald Trump’s presidential campaign this week sent a cease-and-desist letter to television stations airing ads critical of the way he has handled the coronavirus crisis, threatening to revoke their operating licenses. PEN America’s Nora Benavidez, director of U.S. free expression programs, issued the following statement.

“Silencing critics is clearly a knee-jerk reaction for the president. He has a long history of trying to exploit the legal system to scare his supposed adversaries. It’s a troubling practice and a violation of the First Amendment. In the midst of an election and while the U.S. is grappling with an unprecedented public health crisis, it’s appalling for the president to focus in on using his influence to silence a critical television ad that is unquestionably protected political speech. The fact that this threatened action would never hold up in court actually exposes it for what it is: a bullying attempt to intimidate the press and silence the president’s critics.”


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: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, [email protected], +1 202 309 8892white house