Simon & Schuster Inc. got a green light – for now – to publish a tell-all memoir by President Donald Trump's niece after a New York appeals court lifted a temporary ruling that would have blocked the book's release.
The appeals court kept in place a temporary restraining order handed down earlier this week against Mary L. Trump, who wrote a damning memoir about the "toxic" Trump family, but lifted the TRO from her publisher.
The decision Wednesday is a setback for the president's brother, Robert S. Trump, who sued to block the book claiming it violated a secrecy deal that was part of a 2001 legal settlement over the wills of the president's parents.
Mary Trump agreed as part of the 2001 settlement with Donald Trump, Robert Trump, and other family members not to "directly or indirectly publish or cause to be published any diary, memoir, letter, story, photograph, interview, article, essay, account or description or depiction of any kind whatsoever" about their relationships, according to the complaint.
"While Ms. Trump unquestionably possesses the same First Amendment expressive rights belonging to all Americans, she also possesses the right to enter into contracts, including the right to contract away her First Amendment rights," the appeals court said. "Unlike Ms. Trump, Simon & Schuster has not agreed to surrender or relinquish any of its First Amendment rights."
Lack of Evidence
An appeals court judge, Alan Scheinkman, said the temporary restraining order against Mary Trump must also apply to her "agents," though he declined to rule that Simon & Schuster is such an agent, citing a lack of evidence.
The decision is not the end of the fight. A lower-court judge is set to hear arguments July 10 on Robert Trump's request for a longer-lasting preliminary injunction that could block the book's publication indefinitely while the case is litigated.
Theodore Boutrous, Mary Trump's lawyer, said he will file a response in the lower court on Thursday in which he will seek to get the restraining order lifted again.
"It is very good news that the prior restraint against Simon & Schuster has been vacated, and we look forward to filing our brief tomorrow in the trial court explaining why the same result is required as to Ms. Trump, based on the First Amendment and basic contract law," Boutrous said in an emailed statement.
Simon & Schuster praised the upcoming book as a "work of great interest and importance to the national discourse." The company said in a court filing Tuesday that about 75,000 copies of the book were printed and bound and that thousands had already been shipped.
"As all know, there are well-established precedents against prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions, and we remain confident that the preliminary injunction will be denied," the company said in a statement.
Mary Trump's book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man," which is due to be published July 28, will include purported psychological observations about her "toxic" family, according to the lawsuit. It is also expected to reveal her role as a primary source for the New York Times' investigation into the president's taxes, and to detail her claim the family's mistreatment of her father, Fred Trump Jr., contributed to his early death.
© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.