President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has sent a cease and desist letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker demanding that the network retract its recent poll showing Trump trailing Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden by 14 points.
The demand from the campaign was quickly rejected by CNN spokesman Matt Dornic and the network’s general counsel David Vigilante on Wednesday.
“We stand by our poll,” Dornic said in a story from CNN reporting on the Trump campaign’s demand.
The CNN poll, which was conducted by SSRS and released earlier this week. The survey showed Trump trailing the former vice president by a 55 percent to 41 percent margin among registered voters.
“It’s a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President, and present a false view generally of the actual support across America for the President,” reads the letter signed by Trump 2020 senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis and the campaign’s chief operating officer, Michael Glassner.
The letter, which cites Trump pollster John McLaughlin, also demands a “full, fair, and conspicuous retraction, apology, and clarification to correct its misleading conclusions” while also claiming that the poll is “designed to mislead American voters through a biased questionnaire and skewed sampling.”
CNN’s general counsel pushed back on the letter, calling it “factually and legally baseless” and “yet another bad faith attempt by the campaign to threaten litigation to muzzle speech it does not want voters to read or hear.”
“To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40 year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN’s polling results,” Vigilante wrote.
Sources from The Hill, CNN writer Henry Enten and CNN Politics reporter Veronica Stracqualursi also pushed back on McLaughlin in a story reporting on the letter.
“McLaughlin says CNN’s survey is a ‘skewed anti-Trump poll of only 25% Republican.’ That percentage of respondents, however, is consistent with several other major polls that use live telephone interviews, which provide the most reliable snapshot of the race,” Enten and Stracqualursi explained.
“McLaughlin this week argued that pollsters should include a third of Republicans in surveys to reflect the 33% that they represented in the 2016 vote, but exit polls nearly always have higher shares of partisans and lower shares of independents than pre-election phone polls,” they add.
The CNN/SSRS result also places the president’s approval at 38 percent, his lowest number in 17 months in the poll.A Gallup poll released Wednesday has Trump at 39 percent, marking a 10-point drop from May.