Donald Trump Threatens Ridiculous Defamation Lawsuit Over Attack Ad

from the slappity-slapp-slapp dept

Donald Trump may be running for President, but apparently his notoriously thin-skinned approach (along with the quick legal trigger) to handling criticism has not yet gone away. Trump has been fighting with the conservative group Club for Growth for some time, and it put out something of an attack ad against him noting, among other things, that Trump has supported raising taxes (a huge no-no for the Club for Growth) among other things.

As political attack ads go, this one is fairly tame. But it didn’t stop Trump from having his lawyers send a blustery cease and desist letter to Club for Growth, claiming the ad is defamatory (the letter was first posted by Olivia Nuzzi from the Daily Beast):

Simply stated, your Attack Ad is not only completely disingenuous, but replete with outright lies, false, defamatory and destructive statements and downright fabrications which you fully know to be untrue, thereby exposing you and your so-called “club” to liability for damages and other tortious harm. For example, while your Attack Ad blatantly misrepresents to the public that Mr. Trump “supports higher taxes”, nothing could be further from the truth. To be clear, Mr. Trump’s tax plan, which is scheduled to be released later this week, supports a lowering of taxes.

Not surprisingly, a closer look at your Attack Ad reveals that your supposed “source” for this statement is — according to the small print on your website — nothing more than a single article published in the Advocate on February 15, 2000, which quoted Mr. Trump as supposedly saying he would “impose a one-time net worth tax of 14.25% on the superwealthy … to pay off the national debt.” That’s it. While a reputable organization would have at least had the decency to disclose its source — and the fact that the source article is more than 15 years old — your pitiful little grup conveniently chose to leave that information out in a delierate attempt to mislead the public into believing that it is reflective of Mr. Trump’s current position — when unquestionably, it is not. Making matters worse, you then chose to appear on several talk shows, including MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in which you furthered the erroneous notion that Mr. Trump “supports higher taxes” even though you have absolutely no factual support for that statement. In other words, you lied. Mr. Trump does not support higher taxes. This is the very definition of libel.

Actually, it’s not even close to the definition of libel. It’s almost certainly not libel at all.

The letter concludes in usual bluster:

In the event, however, we do not promptly receive these assurances, please be advised that we will commence a multi-million dollar lawsuit against you personally and your organization for your false and defamatory statements and the damage you have intentionally caused in my client’s interests as well as pursue all other remedies available to us at law or in equity.

You’d think that someone running for president would know better than to totally flip his lid over some random attack ad. You’d think that his lawyer would (1) know that this is not defamation and that (2) threatening as such only gives the original ad much more attention. Trump, as a very public figure, would need to show that the information in the ad was not just false, but that Club for Growth knew it was false and deliberately posted such false information to harm Trump. That’s not going to happen, not in the least because there’s plenty of evidence to support the claims that Trump has advocated (recently) for higher taxes. The Federalist provides a list of some recent articles:

ABC (Aug. 6): Donald Trump Once Proposed the Biggest Tax Hike Ever
Bloomberg (Aug. 26): Donald Trump says he wants to raise taxes on himself
CNN (Aug. 27): Donald Trump: Tax the rich more
New York Times (Aug. 31): Increase taxes? Talk by Donald Trump alarms G.O.P.
International Business Times (Sept. 8): Elizabeth Warren Praises Donald Trump Tax Plan

Yeah, good luck with that “very definition of libel” thing.

Club for Growth seemed to take the whole thing in stride, tweeting out the following reply:

If you can’t read it, it says: Short response to @realDonaldTrump Stop Whining. Threatening a bullshit SLAPP suit against a political attack ad that says things that are basically true doesn’t seem particularly presidential.

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Comments on “Donald Trump Threatens Ridiculous Defamation Lawsuit Over Attack Ad”

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47 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Threatening a bullshit SLAPP suit against a political attack ad that says things that are basically true doesn’t seem particularly presidential.

You know, America.

More things that fit the phrase:
Frying bacon on a machine gun
Racism against Mexicans
Using private e-mail for Government business
Etc

I’d add “Being a Bush” but it isn’t too factual per se.

Anonymous Coward says:

watched the GOP debates for once

I can honestly say, there are not any candidates up there that currently impress me yet.

I used to like ted but he seems Lawyer fake when on the camera so I have no idea if I could really trust that guy. Of course I do like the issues Trump brings up, but I also fully expect to see that guy implode over time. But he could still win the nomination over the illegal immigration issue because if we keep taking on all of these people we will lose our country just exactly the same way the EU and all of its nations are losing theirs.

People are no longer integrating with the nation they flee to, they are just setting up mini versions of their past lifes. Additionally the sit here and trash talk the people of the very country they flee to while simultaneously not doing anything about the nation they fled from. This is the very mark of evil and cowardice.

If you flee to a new nation from your old one you have admitted defeat and have no moral or ethical standing in trying to fucking with the new country you just arrived in politically, especially when it is to try to get people elected that will steal from its own citizens to support the invading class from 3rd world shit holes!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

Yea I know, its pure bigotry to ask people to work to solve the problems in their own nation.

What is more evil is to say Country X has a responsibility to people that are NOT their citizens while ALSO saying that Country X cannot take military control to stabilize the country from which they flee. Life never has worked that way.

I am okay with open borders, so long as the welfare goes away. People need to work and earn their place in life, being carried by politicians that literally say, “vote me in and I will give you something if you do” is pure evil.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

Funny, I don’t see you living in a teepee. Seems like your ancestors came over and set-up mini-versions of your own culture.

No, they created a new one, as evidenced by the fact that you also don’t see serfs and a titled noble class, which were both common throughout Europe at the time.

Integration is literally the very meaning of the word “American.” The term was invented by Benjamin Franklin to get people to stop thinking of themselves as Irish and English and German and Dutch and whatever else, to let go of the lives that they had left behind–because they had chosen to leave them behind, so why continue to cling to them?–and focus instead on what they had chosen to come and be a part of instead. (Note: yes, that absolutely does mean that anyone using hyphenated “something-American” terms are completely missing the point.)

I know where my ancestors came from, before they showed up here. They were from all over the place, a little bit here, a little bit there, but I don’t identify with any of those nationalities or cultures. I’m American, and that’s all. That’s good enough for me, and if it’s not good enough for someone else, then why are they coming to live here in the first place?

There’s nothing bigoted about that. There’s nothing degrading to point out that when you freely choose to live in Rome, you’re expected to do as the Romans do, except perhaps insofar as it highlights how dumb someone is for having to be told something so obvious in the first place.

But really that’s just plain common sense, and it works both ways. When I spent some time in Argentina, I didn’t try to live like an American; I learned their language and their culture. I learned to appreciate their food, (to this day I find it frustrating how difficult it is to get ahold of alfajores–Argentine snack cookies–in the USA), and even to not be weirded out by stuff like greeting everyone, of either gender, with a kiss on the cheek or widespread breast feeding in public. Because that’s what you do when you’re living in a different country: you learn to live the way they do. And you do this because you understand that if you don’t, you’ll be making trouble for yourself and those around you.

So when someone points out the simple truth that people who refuse to do so are causing trouble and violating the basic social contract, can we please not jump all over them for it?

jackn says:

Re: Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

“There’s nothing bigoted about that. There’s nothing degrading to point out that when you freely choose to live in Rome, you’re expected to do as the Romans do, except perhaps insofar as it highlights how dumb someone is for having to be told something so obvious in the first place.”

Hey everyone, its the bigot, Mason Wheeler again. Let’s make him cry like last time!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Whaaaaaat?????

” focus instead on what they had chosen to come and be a part of instead. (Note: yes, that absolutely does mean that anyone using hyphenated “something-American” terms are completely missing the point.)”

You mean like how those african-americans chose to be here, or those native-americans that chose to be subsumed into Amerika.

“Integration is literally the very meaning of the word “American.” The term was invented by Benjamin Franklin to get people to stop thinking of themselves as Irish and English and German and Dutch and whatever else”

I think that may be a bit of wishful american exeptionalism there. The history books are very different to the trite you were given in school.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: people who refuse to [integrate] so are causing trouble

I call bullshit conformity propaganda.

The United States started with much of its culture from the majority, but has integrated into it cultures from the other ethnic minorities. It means I can go down to the Mission district and get a damn good authentic burrito. It also means I can go onto clement street and get authentic Chinese food (which tastes far weirder to my palate than Westernized Chinese food).

It also means that the mostly Catholic latin districts can practice their faith in peace, yet I don’t have to.

The United States is, and should remain a Plurality people can speak whatever language they want, dress as they please, worship whoever they wish (or not) and serve / eat what they want, so long as it doesn’t threaten others (or in some cases, themselves, such as with leaded candy).

Yes, in Rome, you do as Romans do. But in the US, if you don’t have the option to do whatever the heck you want, then we’re not doing it right.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

I know where my ancestors came from, before they showed up here. They were from all over the place, a little bit here, a little bit there, but I don’t identify with any of those nationalities or cultures. I’m American, and that’s all. That’s good enough for me, and if it’s not good enough for someone else, then why are they coming to live here in the first place?

If you have to ask that question, you don’t know the first thing about American history.

Holding onto pieces of your past culture are quite typical. Each successive generation tends to integrate more and that’s fine. People like you overreacting and claiming people are somehow less willing to integrate today are living a myth of history. First generation immigrants always hang onto some of what made them them. And that’s perfectly reasonable. Setting up artificial standards of what is truly American is silly and ignorant of American history.

There’s nothing bigoted about that. There’s nothing degrading to point out that when you freely choose to live in Rome, you’re expected to do as the Romans do, except perhaps insofar as it highlights how dumb someone is for having to be told something so obvious in the first place.

Telling people to give up their identities just because you think it’s appropriate is fairly ridiculous, don’t you think?

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 watched the GOP debates for once

If you have to ask that question, you don’t know the first thing about American history.

I’ve studied it pretty extensively, actually, but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know everything. What is the important “first thing” that I’m missing?

Holding onto pieces of your past culture are quite typical. Each successive generation tends to integrate more and that’s fine.

…right up until they don’t, and then it isn’t. You end up with ghettoized communities and all of the social problems that that brings with it, which we are actually seeing today. Which, as I explained above, is why the idea of American national identity was created in the first place: because we had some very smart people who had studied history and government pretty extensively, who knew about these sorts of problems and tried to head them off. They made some mistakes, but this wasn’t one of them.

Telling people to give up their identities just because *you* think it’s appropriate is fairly ridiculous, don’t you think?

What I think is ridiculous is for someone who has already chosen to “give up their identity,” as you put it–or at the very least, to perform major surgery on it–to then be dishonest about it and pretend that they didn’t. Moving to another country is not a simple task that one undertakes lightly; you’ve got to have a really good reason to not want to stay where you are. So if you wanted to leave your past behind that badly, isn’t it a little bit ridiculous to then cling to it?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 watched the GOP debates for once

I’ve studied it pretty extensively, actually, but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know everything. What is the important “first thing” that I’m missing?

The “American” identity you think exists does not. American culture is a mix of cultures, bringing in all sorts of things from other places where people came. The idea that people came to America and gave up their previous identity is laughable and ignorant.

…right up until they don’t, and then it isn’t.

See this is why people claim you’re a bigot. That’s the kind of ignorant, fact-free statement that suggests someone who just doesn’t like someone who is different. Yes, people are still integrating and at the same rates as in the past. Go back 130 years and people made similar claims about Irish immigrants and then Italian and Jewish immigrants. Insisting that they were clustering and not integrating. And then they did.

Same is happening today. And you’re reacting just like the racists and bigots from a century ago who freak out because some people are acting “different.”

You end up with ghettoized communities and all of the social problems that that brings with it, which we are actually seeing today.

No more than a century ago. Or 50 years ago. In fact arguably significantly less than in the past. Most of my family came here between 1890 and 1910 and moved into a “ghetto” of people from the old country, and kept their language and customs. And then the integrated a bit. And then their children integrated more. And then their children integrated even more and now there’s my generation. And we still keep some customs, but are fully American. This is the way America has always worked.

American national identity was created in the first place: because we had some very smart people who had studied history and government pretty extensively, who knew about these sorts of problems and tried to head them off.

That’s a myth. A myth pushed by racists.

What I think is ridiculous is for someone who has already chosen to “give up their identity,” as you put it–or at the very least, to perform major surgery on it–to then be dishonest about it and pretend that they didn’t.

Moving to a new country is not giving up your identity.

Moving to another country is not a simple task that one undertakes lightly; you’ve got to have a really good reason to not want to stay where you are.

Yes, but none of that means denying who you or your culture is.

So if you wanted to leave your past behind that badly, isn’t it a little bit ridiculous to then cling to it?

No. Not at all. Moving to a country for new opportunities or to experience new things or to get away from persecution is one thing. Pretending that you don’t keep your culture and customs or even language is another thing entirely.

Again, please check your assumptions here because they match up identically to standard racist and bigoted thinking and you appear to be pushing the myths of such people.

If you wish to be taken seriously, I would suggest learning a bit more about the reality of American culture and its history, because the version you seem to have gleaned is not an accurate portrayal of either historical or modern America.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 watched the GOP debates for once

The “American” identity you think exists does not. American culture is a mix of cultures, bringing in all sorts of things from other places where people came. The idea that people came to America and gave up their previous identity is laughable and ignorant.

They brought in some things and left others behind. As I pointed out a few posts ago, the USA is quite notable for the time of its founding for lacking any concept of titled nobility, to give just one example. No one came here from Europe and tried to be more Europe. In fact, we kinda had this big war over the idea that that was exactly what we were not supposed to be. (Yes, I know, England isn’t technically part of the continent of Europe, but you know what I mean.)

See this is why people claim you’re a bigot. That’s the kind of ignorant, fact-free statement that suggests someone who just doesn’t like someone who is different.

Yup, you got me. I can’t stand people who are different. That’s why I spent two years in South America, where the culture, the food, and even the climate were completely different from what I’m used to, where you can’t even perform such fundamental tasks as buying food without learning to speak a second language: because I hate “different.”

That’s a myth. A myth pushed by racists.

Are their actual writings, copies of which (and some originals even) still exist today, mythical?

And… seriously, you claim to despise partisan politics, to such a degree that you refuse to publish party affiliations when talking about a member of Congress in one of your posts. (Which is a laudable ideal that I completely agree with, BTW.) So why are you playing the “systemic racism” card? That’s essentially the “terrorism” of the far left: a problem that hurt a lot of Americans years ago, that we must never be allowed to forget, or to acknowledge how little of an actual problem it is today, because it’s so valuable for playing on people’s emotions for political profit. It’s this huge blind spot that a lot of people have. Even people who are aware of the Shirky Principle and Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy don’t seem to understand that yes, they apply to groups such as civil rights organizations too.

If you actually take a more than superficial look into racial issues, what you find is that almost every time, Occam’s Razor cuts accusations of racism in the USA, particularly of the “systemic” variety, to shreds, as the underlying problems in almost every case can be adequately explained without any need to invoke a racially-prejudiced oppressor. (My personal favorite is the widely-reported claim that the housing crash of 2008 was somehow a racist event, because when all the dust had settled, the data showed that all of the socioeconomic gains that the black community had made since the Civil Rights movement had been nullified. The part that they’re not telling, because it doesn’t fit their narrative, is that long before 2008, economists were already pointing out how those gains had been erased, and that the culprit was the widespread use of drugs, particularly cocaine, in many parts of the black community; real estate had nothing to do with it. Taken at face value, this might even suggest that the negative impact of the housing crash on black Americans was disproportionately light!)

Moving to a new country is not giving up your identity.

“Giving up your identity” is your phrase, not mine. Please don’t put words in my mouth, particularly not for the sake of pointing out how silly they sound when I didn’t actually say them. Changing where you live, though–especially to a far away place–absolutely does involve changing your identity to a pretty serious degree, because a lot of your identity is bound up with where you live. It affects everything from the climate you live in, (which in turn affects what sorts of clothes are practical to wear,) to the people you associate with (your neighbors) to the meanings of certain words.

No. Not at all. Moving to a country for new opportunities or to experience new things or to get away from persecution is one thing. Pretending that you don’t keep your *culture* and *customs* or even *language* is another thing entirely.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but if I had to guess, I’d guess that you haven’t moved very many times in your life even within the USA, much less outside of it. Would I be right?

Speaking as someone who’s actually done it, when you go to live in another country, trying to keep your old customs and language is just asking for trouble. I wasn’t kidding when I said you have to know Spanish to buy food in Argentina. If you go to the supermarket and the clerk asks you “¿Por favor de teclar tu nùmero DNI?” and you don’t know what that means, you’re not leaving that store with any food! (They’re asking for an identification number roughly equivalent to SSNs in the USA. It’s required by law as part of the sale. That’s just one of a hundred cultural details that you pick up very quickly by basic necessity.)

Again, please check your assumptions here because they match up identically to standard racist and bigoted thinking and you appear to be pushing the myths of such people.

This is known, somewhat informally, as the “Hitler Ate Sugar” fallacy:

1) Hitler was evil.
2) Hitler ate sugar.
3) Therefore, eating sugar is evil.

Simply because some person or group that is undoubtedly evil says or does some specific thing does not necessarily make that specific thing evil too. It’s a rhetorical trap that’s all too easy to fall into.

the version you seem to have gleaned is not an accurate portrayal of either historical or modern America.

I wasn’t aware that history had “versions”. It’s supposed to be something objective: history is what really happened. Of course, that’s often not politically palatable to certain groups, so they come up with “versions” that better fit their ideals. But I prefer to stick with what really happened. Personally I find it difficult to take seriously people who talk about history having versions and believe in contemporary systemic racism. But maybe that’s just me.

geaaronson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

There´s nothing bigoted but simply stupid. your own personal past should never be swept under the rug. Your childhood and young adulthood are important parts of our lives, and for you to ask that people turn their backs on them is highly insensitive on your part.

Your ancestry has nothing to do with your personal history in your lifetime. You are a multi-generational descendant of immigrants to this country. You are far removed from the cultural mores and customs of your forbears. Those that come to this country in this lifetime do so because of the promise of American, that we will receive them with open arms like the good lady in NYC harbor, but you do not and you call yourself a patriotic American. I question that. You don´t fully understand the meaning of being American and some that are coming to our country are more American than you. But that is over your head.You think that because you were born here, that makes you a TRUE AMERICAN. Sorry my friend, if you don´t subscribe to what this country represents then you have a lot to learn and need to go back to taking Civics 101

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: watched the GOP debates for once

Yeah, the EU. If Germany had even more power, there wouldn’t be a Lybian (ever wondered why there were no overseas Lybian communities? It was the best African country to live in, that’s it, Syria was close, but not African. The refugee flood. Blame it on France and the UK for starting it, fool.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

Also Hillary Clinton, as everyone in the White House was against bombing Lybia, Hitlery acted like she wanted anyway, there’s proof of this. Fuck Trump and Adolf H. Clinton, she’s a psychopath, if you heard her laugh, it’s all the proof you need (other than all the people dead because of her).

Bernie Sanders is your only candidate that makes sense. I think the fact people blast him for “lack of foreign policy” is because he has very little of it, like Ron Paul, which is about, keep dangerous nuclear countries in check and that’s it (Israel very included).

DCL says:

Re: watched the GOP debates for once

“People are no longer integrating with the nation they flee to, they are just setting up mini versions of their past lifes”.

Ummm so why does most every major city has a “China Town” or a “Little Italy”?

Mind you I think all those coming to the US for citizenship should make an effort to be good citizens by learning enough English to get by, voting, paying appropriate taxes etc… but I fully support keeping one’s customs and heritage.

Oh and while I am not particularly religious I do know of a 2000 year old book that has a lot of stories about a people not integrating well into a new land. You may want to check it out existing things before spewing things like in your comment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

I don’t think we disagree too much then. And only serves to strengthen my argument. Yes there is already a natural path for people not integrating with a new country but the NEW problem is the political movement to vilify the encouragement of that integration. There are places in America where the AMERICAN FLAG is seen as a symbol of controversy… this makes it clear what the problem is. Another country’s culture is being valued more than our own country’s culture.

DCL says:

Re: Re: Re: watched the GOP debates for once

Nope.

We are worlds apart in that I see the difference between converting people to be an American by treating them with respect and honor and showing them how great we are in our diversity, opportunities and freedoms (those that are left anyway).

Vs

Forcing them to bow down to our awesomeness because we know better because we are Amurkans! I don’t remember seeing blurb in the US Constitution about forcing somebody to view the flag in a certain way or to abandon who they were when the get here.

I believe that one of the best judges of character is how you interact and deal with those that have a difference of opinion…. That is where we begin to differ.

P.S. You totally missed the point for how America (and the world) has been more of a “tossed salad” then a “melting pot” for a centuries longer then you have been alive. Those clusters have had to endure the same viewpoints of anger and bigotry all along… and yet they endure and still create great Americans and a stronger America.

Zonker says:

Re: watched the GOP debates for once

Right, the US steals more than 55% of Mexico’s territory by conquest at the end of the Mexican-American War and it’s those darn Mexicans who are invading our country and refusing to integrate with our nation? Never mind that the Mexican-American War started over the illegal immigration of Anglo Americans to Texas who refused to integrate with Mexico in the first place. Or is that really what you’re afraid of, that the same may happen in reverse some day soon?

Anernermiss Cerwerd says:

Please stop legitimizing this guy

He is an idiot and a bigot and has terrible political ideas, no matter what your particular affiliation. I understand that he gets ratings on cable news in the “debates” and page views for bloggers with his Twitter antics, but every time someone does another stupid, inflammatory story on him it just makes him seem like a legitimate candidate.

I expected better from Techdirt. Remember, no press is bad press. Please stop giving him press. Please stop using his name.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Why we keep legitimizing this guy.

Because he’s still legitimate even in the clown suit.

The GOP had the same problem in 2012. Thanks to the Rove campaign of taking the southern strategy up to eleven and turning demagogy into a lifestyle from beyond the pale, not one of the candidates was tall enough to ride the ride (or were too wide or too heavy or whatever), so they had to contort themselves into chthonic abominations in order to present themselves as electable to the base.

In the end, Romney was the least offensive option, and he was still pretty offensive.

You have the same problem now, since the GOP is still pushing for the weird Calvanist-literalist / Randian-revivalist / small government / hyperconformity platform that they did then, just with quashing net neutrality and deregulation of ISP and telecommunications on top of it.

And so while Trump may fit GOP certification no better (and possibly worse) than the other candidates, he puts on a good show and says things that the xenophobic white male American likes to hear. And that makes him still a thing.

If you don’t want him to be a thing, stop legitimizing all the fears of uneducated Joe Sixpack. Teach your kids to understand their best interests, to regard candidates and issues critically, and to not believe their hatred of big societies full of weird people is legit because some politicos say it is.

Trump may get elected based solely on the stupid-people vote. And that would be indicative of our nation’s system right there.

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re: Why we keep legitimizing this guy.

When this guy is the only option on the right…

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5UCq8fFRKfI/VgR2JHcaRGI/AAAAAAAAB4E/3ILlvvdsdLI/s1600/fury_no_commies.png

…we’re stuck with a wishy-washy liberal or slightly left alternative, now with added corporatism.

How do you want your slavery, debt-loaded or tax-loaded?

That we are only allowing ourselves a change of fox in terms of who guards the henhouse is the problem. We need a new way of thinking about governMENT and governANCE.

GEMont (profile) says:

Accuracy in retorting!!

To be clear, Mr. Trump’s tax plan, which is scheduled to be released later this week, supports a lowering of taxes.

Should read:

To be clear, Mr. Trump’s tax plan, which is scheduled to be released later this week, supports a lowering of taxes for a long list of supporting industries and other friends of Mister Trump.

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