Mary Trump, the niece whose book spills toxic tea about her uncle Donald, is still banned from speaking about it or promoting it until just one day before it’s due to go on sale, a New York judge ordered Friday.
The order from Judge Hal Greenwald in Dutchess County, N.Y., is the latest turn in the tense legal battlebetween Mary Trump and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, on one side, and her relatives, including the president and his brother Robert Trump and their sister, ex-federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, on the other.
The Trump family is trying to stop “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” from being published on July 14, as scheduled. They say Mary Trump has no right to write it or promote it because she signed a confidentiality agreement in 2001 and is still bound by it.
Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster are arguing that their First Amendment rights are being violated by unconstitutional prior restraint – the temporary restraining order that still applies to Mary Trump. And they argue the NDA she signed with her family, after the estate of her grandfather was settled, is invalid now.
The lawsuit, filed by Robert Trump in June, has already come before three New York judges, with mixed results. As it now stands: Simon & Schuster is not under a restraining order and will officially publish the book next week.
But Mary Trump, 55, a psychologist, remains personally gagged and won’t be able to help promote it until Greenwald decides whether to lift or make her restraining order permanent, and grants Robert Trump the injunction he seeks.
That decision will happen either on July 13 or shortly after. It is not clear from the order whether there will be an in-person hearing for oral arguments in the case.
In practical terms, the book is already out: Some 600,000 copies have already been shipped to bookstores across the country. Plus, scores of journalists have read it and published multiple stories about its excoriating depiction of her uncle Donald and her grandfather, the late Fred Trump.
Among other stunning details, she says Donald Trump paid someone to take his SAT test to get into business school, and she outs herself as a key source to the New York Times’ prize-winning investigation of the Trump family’s long history of dubious tactics in property valuation to avoid higher taxes.
The legal wrangling over the book quickly spiraled after Robert Trump filed the lawsuit on June 26: Now there are more than a dozen lawyers involved representing the three parties, plus lawyers representing two outside friends-of-the-court. More than 130 legal documents have been filed in the case (and counting), with arguments ranging from lofty First Amendment protections to the nitty-gritty of contract law.
All of this has produced rapidly changing developments – and a bonanza of pre-publication free publicity for the book.
As far as Simon & Schuster is concerned, this situation – in which a book is published but the author is legally prohibited from promoting it – is unprecedented, according to spokeswoman Julia Prosser.
But even if Mary Trump is unable to speak out about her book initially, there are already plenty of others talking about it.
The lead lawyer for Mary Trump, Ted Boutrous, did not return a message seeking comment, nor did Charles Harder, the lead lawyer for her uncles.