Update: In a press conference on Wednesday, Ted Cruz accused Trump of "threatening frivolous lawsuits your entire life" and that his threatened lawsuit against Cruz "takes the cake." As we wrote earlier today, there is some truth to that first claim.
"You have been threatening frivolous lawsuits for your entire life." -- Ted Cruz to Donald Trump.
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) February 17, 2016
Donald Trump never hides his businessman persona. It's come out in a few ways recently: His support for eminent domain laws, his proclamations that he "gets along with everybody" and, of course, his constant threats to sue just about everyone who he perceives (rightly or wrongly) to have wronged him.
So when his threats to sue Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) over his eligibility to run for president ramped up this week, we had to wonder, could Trump really sue Cruz? While Trump has been threatening to sue people for decades (and actually has filed lawsuits a few times, including a $500 million lawsuit against Univision, which he recently settled out of court), he uses the tactic more as a threat and a deterrent than as a way to really seek damages. For Trump, the threat of legal action is a tool.
Clearly, it works sometimes. He got a settlement out of the Univision case, and surely out of others, too. But it's largely an intimidation tactic used against those he wants to silence. Take, for example, his lawsuit against Angelo Carusone, a man who started an online protest against Trump's line of clothing sold at Macy's department stores. Trump threatened to sue Carusone for $25 million, despite (probably) lacking legal standing to do so. It works for a guy like Trump, who has high-powered lawyers that can send intimidating cease-and-desist letters to anyone he doesn't like.
Trump has threatened to sue more people than The Fix can count — some of them on television, some of them in letters and many more on Twitter, his favorite medium for delivering veiled (or not-so-veiled) threats. But while he has a loud bark, the rest of us (and especially Cruz) have yet to see whether it's matched by his bite.