Billboards blame Jared, Ivanka for COVID-19 response, spark legal battle

The Lincoln Project defended their play, asserting that the ads are "entirely accurate."

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Lincoln Project on Sunday defended in a letter its decision to put up ads in Times Square that emphasize Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's association with "the Trump Administration's failed COVID-19 response" and its effect on Americans.
The political action committee, composed of former-Republicans determined to inhibit the re-election of President Donald Trump in the upcoming elections, also welcomed the threat of legal action.
The ads are up side by side in Times Square. The billboard on the left depicts Ivanka gesturing pleasantly with her hand to a series of numbers, "33,366+ New Yorkers," under which appears "221,247+ Americans," referring to the coronavirus death tally to date. The billboard on the right depicts Jared, in front of a line of body bags, with the quote, "[New Yorkers] are going to suffer, and that's their problem."
The Lincoln Project defended its move, asserting that the ads are "entirely accurate," reminding that "Americans have the right to discuss and criticize their public officials freely," citing a SCOTUS case for further emphasis. The announcement notes that this isn't the first time public officials have tried "to evade accountability and muzzle dissent" by threatening their critics with lawsuits.
On Saturday, The Lincoln Project tweeted a screenshot of the letter that Marc Kasowitz, the lawyer representing senior White House officials sent to them, calling the ads "false, malicious and defamatory."
"If these billboard ads are not immediately removed," he noted, "we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages."
The project's response? "Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere. The Lincoln Project will not be intimidated by such empty bluster."
The Lincoln Project's letter cites the origin of the photo and quote, defending its decision. The photo of Ivanka is doctored from an image of her holding a can of Goya beans, posted after Goya's CEO praised Trump.
Kushner's quote is pulled from a Vanity Fair article published back in September. The context of the quote is Kushner complaining that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo didn't "plead hard enough with the White House to get coronavirus protective gear for his state," according to HuffPost.
Kasowitz's letter insists that, "Of course, Mr. Kushner never made such a statement, Ms. Trump never made any such gesture, and the Lincoln Project's representation that they did are an outrageous and shameful libel."
The Lincoln Project signed its letter with a promise to fight this further, and that they plan to avail themselves "of these constitutional protections to duly criticize Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump until they cease to be public officials, at approximately Noon Eastern Standard Time, on January 20, 2021."