Tufts University postponed an event with Anthony Scaramucci after the former White House communications director threatened a lawsuit over an opinion piece published in the student newspaper.
Scaramucci was scheduled to speak at the university's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford on Monday, but the university told NBC Boston the event would be delayed until "legal matters" are resolved.
"We are disappointed that Mr. Scaramucci has taken this action," the school said in its statement.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
In a letter dated Nov. 21, Scaramucci's lawyer said he would take legal action unless the newspaper retracted "false and defamatory allegations of fact" in an op-ed piece calling for Scaramucci's removal from an advisory board at the school. Scaramucci is a 1986 graduate of the school.
Graduate student Camilo Caballero wrote in a Nov. 6 piece that a man "who is irresponsible, inconsistent, an unethical opportunist and who exuded the highest degree of disreputability should not be on the Fletcher Board."
The piece also criticized a poll posted by The Scaramucci Post Twitter account as "giving comfort to Holocaust deniers." Scaramucci said the poll, which asked users how many Jews were killed in the mass slaughter, was posted without his permission. He said a Jewish friend conceived of the idea to highlight the public's ignorance of the event.
Caballero says Scaramucci is trying to prevent him from using his First Amendment rights.
"He is someone that uses his money to gain power and his wealth to buy himself into things that will get him attention," Caballero said. "And he uses this power as a scare tactic."
Scaramucci said in a phone interview with NBC Boston that he’s serious about following through with the defamation lawsuit.
"They can’t hide under the cover of a student newspaper," he said.
Caballero's piece echoed some of the complaints raised by other students and administrators who signed a petition calling for Scaramucci's removal from the board.
"I do not plan on stepping down from the board anytime soon, but I am expecting cooler heads to prevail," said Scaramucci.
Scaramucci said he had been looking forward to responding to the concerns until Monday's event was called off.
"I'm shocked that a university that I love and have been a part of for 35 years is silencing that debate because of my request for an apology," he said.
The ACLU of Massachusetts said it is advising Caballero and reviewing Scaramucci's legal notice.
"There is no doubt that sending a graduate student a legal demand letter accusing him of libel just two days before Thanksgiving -- and demanding turnaround of five business days -- is plainly mean-spirited," the ACLU said in a statement. "Unfortunately, however, his actions are not entirely surprising, as they are completely consistent with President Trump's ongoing attacks against the press and free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. This matter seems to be one where the apple doesn't fall far from the Trump."