In a May 2 filing, lawyers for Simon & Schuster and bestselling author Bob Woodward asked a Florida court for a brief extension to file two new motions to dismiss an amended $50 million lawsuit filed by former president Donald Trump alleging that Woodward and S&S breached Trump’s copyright interests by publishing The Trump Tapes: The Historical Record. But the pending new motions, due to be filed early next week, will almost certainly restate the argument made by Woodward and S&S in two previous motions to dismiss the original complaint filed on April 3: that the case is entirely without merit, and should be tossed.

First filed in January (and amended on April 24), Trump’s complaint accuses Woodward of “systematic usurpation, manipulation, and exploitation of audio of President Trump” gathered in connection with a series of interviews initially recorded for Woodward’s 2021 book Rage. “Said audio was protected material, subject to various limitations on use and distribution—as a matter of copyright, license, contract, basic principles of the publishing industry, and core values of fairness and consent.”

The suit seeks a declaratory judgment acknowledging Trump's “full copyright interest” in the recordings and all works derived from the recordings. And, based on some very murky math, it seeks "compensatory, punitive damages and disgorgement" of “at least $49,980,000.”

In two separate April 3 motions, lawyers for Woodward and S&S sought to have the case dismissed. In the filings, lawyers for Woodward and S&S argue that the suit is in an improper venue—in the Northern District of Florida—and should therefore be thrown out or at least transferred. And on the merits, lawyers insist that, given that the interviews were conducted while Trump was acting in his capacity as President of the United States, the former president holds no copyright interest in the interviews and that there is no contract or agreement stating otherwise.

“The Copyright Claims independently fail for the basic reason that [Trump] was President of the United States when he participated in the Interviews and his responses belong to the People, not him personally,” reads an April 3 legal memo filed by Woodward and S&S lawyers. “Any decision granting President Trump private ownership of his statements to the press as President would stymie discussion of his place in American history and contradict the long tradition of opening up a President’s words to public scrutiny. In sum, President Trump’s contributions to the Interviews for ‘the historical record’ are government works that copyright law bars him from owning in a personal capacity. Dismissal is warranted for this independent reason.”

In terms of the state contract claims made by Trump, the filing insists no agreement exists in which Woodward gave Trump any stake in any property arising from the interviews.

President Trump’s contributions to the Interviews for ‘the historical record’ are government works that copyright law bars him from owning in a personal capacity.

“There is nothing approaching a plausible allegation that there was a meeting of the minds in which Woodward agreed that President Trump actually ‘owned’ the Interviews and only granted Woodward a ‘limited license’ to use quotes from the Interviews in Rage,” the brief states. “No experienced journalist would agree to such onerous terms—particularly with respect to materials that form part of ‘the historical record’—and nothing in the tapes remotely suggests that Woodward had taken the extraordinary step of agreeing to President Trump’s alleged terms, which requires dismissal of the Contract Claims.”

The suit is yet another in a long string of futile legal battles between Trump and S&S. In 2020, Trump's Department of Justice sued to block to block former national security adviser John Bolton’s memoir, The Room Where It Happened. The suit failed, and the book would go on to become a bestseller. After a year of litigation, the DOJ eventually dropped subsequent criminal and civil lawsuits against Bolton.

A month later, in July 2020, Trump unsuccessfully sued Simon & Schuster and his niece, author Mary Trump, in New York state court seeking to block publication of her memoir Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. The book would go on to sell more than a million copies. And in January 2023, Trump threatened to sue S&S and former New York criminal prosecutor Mark Pomerantz over the forthcoming publication of Pomerantz's People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account.

Lawyers for Woodward and S&S are seeking an extension through May 19 to file their motions to dismiss Trump's Amended complaint. Oral argument has also been requested.