After slapping Univision with a $500 million lawsuit for dropping the Miss USA pageant, Donald Trump’s legal team is now threatening NBC.
“We will be taking action against NBC,” Alan Garten, executive vice president and general counsel of The Trump Organization told Brian Stelter Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
The broadcaster booted Trump Monday from his role on “Celebrity Apprentice,” and announced that it will no longer air the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, which are co-owned by its corporate parent NBCUniversal and Trump.
The move was in response to remarks Trump made last month during his presidential campaign kickoff, referring to undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” among other things. When asked if Trump plans to sue NBC, the real estate mogul’s lawyer stopped short of saying yes.
“There’s a clear conflict playing out here,” Garten said. “One aspect, NBC is a partner in the Miss Universe Organization and you’ve got another division which has separate agreements with the Miss Universe Organization, as a broadcaster. Under those agreements, NBC had the clear obligation to broadcast the Miss Universe pageant in 2016. They also elected to schedule, to broadcast the Miss USA pageant in 2015, and then backed away from it. And that’s, I believe, a clear breach of the provisions of the agreement.”
While Trump may want to sue the broadcaster, his attorney admitted that the outspoken Republican has an arbitration agreement with NBC, meaning both sides have contractually agreed that if there is a dispute, they will put it before a mutually agreeable arbitrator and abide by his or her decision.
“There is an arbitration clause and we will obviously be following the contract,” Garten offered. “That sort of represents the difference between how we as an organization act and how NBC has acted. We follow the contract. They have not.”
Translation, the dispute will be played out privately, instead of in a public trial. Still, Garten remained defiant and would not rule out a lawsuit.
“Certainly if it requires litigation, it will be litigation,” he said, before revealing that there is no arbitration clause in Trump’s deal with Univision, which was inked in January 2015 for the channel to simulcast Miss USA in Spanish. “Accordingly we filed suit in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday,” he said.
Trump’s complaint against Univision claims that the Spanish-language broadcaster agreed to pay a total of $13.5 million in licensing fees for the pageant over the next five years.
“Simply stated, Univision has no right to terminate its relationship with [the organization] and refuse to broadcast the upcoming Miss USA pageant,” the lawsuit said.
Univision responded to the suit with its own statement on Tuesday. “We just reviewed Mr. Trump’s complaint for the first time, and it is both factually false and legally ridiculous,” the network said.
Miss USA has since found a new home on less-widely distributed cable channel, Reelz. The pageant is set to air at 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 12.
NBC has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment on Garten’s statements.
Watch the interview below.