Woodward interviewed Trump for hours over the course of 19 interviews in 2016, December 2019, and August 2020. The recordings became the basis for Woodward’s 2020 book Rage, which was about the Trump presidency. About two years later, publisher Simon & Schuster released the recordings as an audiobook, The Trump Tapes.
The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg, focuses on Woodward’s alleged “usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation” of the material, according to court documents filed Monday.
“Defendants have converted the audio not only into an audiobook but also into derivative works, including a CD, paperback, and e-book—again, all at the expense of President Trump and without accounting to him,” the lawsuit says.
Trump is seeking nearly $50 million in damages from Woodward, Simon & Schuster, and the publisher’s parent company for alleged violation of his copyright interests, arguing that he never gave permission for the recordings to be made public.
Trump criticized Woodward right after the audiobook was released, insisting on Truth Social that he allowed the interviews to be recorded “only for the purposes of making sure that he got my quotes & statements correct for ‘the WRITTEN WORD.’”
Trump also claimed The Trump Tapes was “highly inaccurate” and edited to make him look “as bad as possible.”
Trump has a history of suing news outlets and people who do or say things he doesn’t like. He has filed libel suits against The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN, the latter two of which have been tossed out of court.
Last week, he dropped a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, who had sued his Trump Organization for fraud. Less than a week before, Trump was hit with about $1 million in sanctions for what a Florida judge slammed as a “completely frivolous, both factually and legally, lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.”