Trump v. New York Times: Who Won Round One?

As even those stuck on a science station in Antarctica must know by now, Donald Trump has threatened to sue the New York Times for defamation. And the Times waited barely a day to send what has been called an “epic” response.

Even just one letter can tell you a lot about a lawyer. Or at least about that lawyer’s writing. In the ring: Marc Kasowitz for Trump and David McCraw for the Times.

Spaces after periods?TwoTwo (typography guru Matt Butterick would disapprove)
Right margin: justified or ragged?JustifiedRagged (Butterick would endorse the Times here)
Comma after a complete date?NoNo
Oxford comma?NoUnknown
Rating?GPG-13 (the phrase “piece of ass” makes a cameo)
Best transition?“That is why you apparently performed . . .”“But there is a larger and much more important point here.”
Wording glitches?“. . . a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.” “Candidacy” is the state of being a candidate, so Trump’s candidacy can’t now be “defeated.”

“. . . irrespective of whether the alleged statements had any basis in fact.” The statements themselves “allege,” but they are by no means “alleged.”

It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more . . .” “It is . . . it is” is confusing when the first “it” is a dummy subject and the second is a pronoun.
"I write in response to your letter . . . concerning.” “You write concerning our article . . .” “About” and “about”?

“Our reporters diligently worked to confirm.” “Worked diligently”?
Punctuation problems?“It is apparent from . . . the timing of the article, that it is . . .” No comma after "article."

“. . . why these two individuals waited . . . more than three decades, before deciding . . .” No comma there, either.

“. . . nothing more than a politically-motivated effort” No hyphen when an adverb ends in -ly.
“If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that . . . punished, we welcome . . .” The “if . . . punished” bit would have worked better between dashes.
Parallelism prowess?“Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se.” A list can’t be built on an adjective, an adjective, and a verb. How about “Your article is reckless and defamatory and thus constitutes libel per se”?Nice sentence sequence built on “Mr. Trump has bragged . . . He has bragged . . . He acquiesced . . .” Not quite “I came, I saw, I conquered,” but it works.

And “It would have been a disservice NOT JUST TO our readers BUT TO democracy itself” works well, too.
Modifier madness?“Politically,” “apparently,” “entirely,” and “clearly” are all in the second paragraph.