Tell-all book by Donald Trump’s niece can go ahead, appellate judge rules
President’s brother claimed Too Much and Never Enough had breached confidentiality deal
Mary Trump’s book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man is about US president Donald Trump and his family. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times
A New York appellate judge ruled on Wednesday that the publisher Simon & Schuster could go ahead with its plans to release a tell-all book by Mary Trump, the niece of President Trump, reversing a lower court’s decision from this week that had temporarily halted publication.
The decision by the judge, Alan Scheinkman, means that Simon & Schuster can move forward in publishing Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, which is scheduled to be released at the end of July. In court papers filed on Tuesday, Simon & Schuster claimed that tens of thousands of copies of the book had already been printed, adding that it is a bestseller on Amazon.
Justice Scheinkman’s ruling, however, put off addressing a central aspect of the bitter spat about the manuscript that has been roiling all month in the Trump family: whether, by writing the book, Mary Trump violated a confidentiality agreement put in place nearly 20 years ago after a struggle over the will of her grandfather, Fred Trump snr, Donald Trump’s father.
In his decision, Justice Scheinkman ruled that Simon & Schuster was not a party to, and so could not be bound by, the confidentiality agreement, which was signed by Mary Trump, Donald Trump and the president’s two siblings, Robert Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry.
Unlike Mary Trump, Justice Scheinkman wrote, “S&S has not agreed to surrender or relinquish any of its First Amendment rights.”
Simon & Schuster quickly hailed the ruling as a victory. “We support Mary L Trump’s right to tell her story in Too Much and Never Enough, a work of great interest and importance to the national discourse that fully deserves to be published for the benefit of the American public,” the publisher said in a statement issued on Wednesday night. “As all know, there are well-established precedents against prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions.”
A judge in Dutchess County, New York, had on Tuesday temporarily blocked publication of the book.
Judge Hal Greenwald of the New York state supreme court had issued the temporary restraining order until a hearing originally expected on July 10th to decide whether Too Much and Never Enough violated the confidentiality agreement.
The judge acted in response to a court action filed by Robert S Trump, the president’s brother, against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher. Mary Trump is the daughter of Fred Trump Jr, who died in 1981 and was estranged from his family.
A lawyer for Mary Trump, Theodore J Boutrous, had vowed to appeal the decision. “The trial court’s temporary restraining order is only temporary, but it still is a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment,” Mr Boutrous said. “We will immediately appeal. This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in an election year, should not be suppressed even for one day.”
Officials at Simon & Schuster had said they planned to immediately appeal the decision to the New York state supreme court’s appellate division.
In a statement, Charles Harder, a lawyer for Robert Trump, said his client was “very pleased” with Greenwald’s decision. “We look forward to vigorously litigating this case, and will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages caused by Mary Trump’s breach of contract and Simon & Schuster’s intentional interference with that contract,” Mr Harder said. “Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end.”
Mary Trump’s book has been described as a unique inside look at the Trump family. She is also expected to write that she was a source on an investigation by The New York Times into the president’s personal finances. The Times declined to comment.
Mary Trump’s father, Fred Trump Jr, was the eldest of the president’s siblings. An alcoholic, he died at 41.
When the family patriarch, Fred Trump Sr, died some years later, his estate essentially cut out Fred Trump Jr’s children from any inheritance.
Mary Trump and her brother, Fred Trump III, sued their uncles and an aunt, Maryanne, over the estate in 2000.
As a result of the court battle, the president and his siblings cut off medical care for Fred III’s young son, who was born with severe health problems.
The two sides eventually settled the case, and Mary Trump is said to have signed a confidentiality agreement.
That agreement is what the Trump family is saying she is violating by moving forward with a book.
Robert Trump’s initial attempt to stop the book with the Queens County, New York, surrogate’s court, where Fred Trump Sr’s estate was originally filed, was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. – New York Times