Tell-All Book on Trump Can Move Forward Pending Hearing, Judge Rules


JULY 2, 2020

President Trump said his niece had a confidentiality agreement after a court settlement over his father’s estate. – Erin Schaff/NY 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 L. 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 D. Scheinkman, means that Simon & Schuster can move forward in publishing the book, “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 best seller 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, Ms. Trump violated a confidentiality agreement put in place nearly 20 years ago after a struggle over the will of her grandfather, Fred Trump Sr., Donald Trump’s father.

In his decision, Justice Scheinkman ruled that Simon & Schuster was not a party to — and thus could not be bound by — the confidentiality agreement, which was signed by Ms. Trump, Donald Trump and the president’s two siblings, Robert S. Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry.

“Unlike Ms. 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 Wednesday night. “As all know, there are well-established precedents against prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions.”

On Tuesday, ruling on a petition filed by Robert Trump, Judge Hal Greenwald of the New York State Supreme Court in Dutchess County issued a temporary restraining order barring publication of Ms. Trump’s book, saying that he would hear more arguments in the case at a hearing on July 10. That same day, Simon & Schuster told Judge Greenwald that it was unaware of Ms. Trump’s confidentiality agreement.

While Justice Scheinkman declined on Wednesday to rule on the question of whether Ms. Trump had violated the agreement, he did note that it was “reasonable for a well-known and prominent family to collectively agree” to shield “intimate family matters” from the public.

But he also pointed out that an agreement reached two decades ago to protect the Trump family’s privacy may have been altered by the fact that Donald Trump had in the interim become the president.

“The legitimate interest in preserving family secrets may be one thing for the family of a real estate developer, no matter how successful,” Justice Scheinkman wrote. “It is another matter for the family of the president of the United States.”

Justice Scheinkman said he might have to review the book himself to decide if its contents violated the confidentiality agreement.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for Ms. Trump, said on Wednesday that he planned to file a formal appeal of the lower court’s ruling on Thursday.

“It is very good news that the prior restraint against Simon & Schuster has been vacated,” Mr. Boutros said, “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.”

Courtesy/Source: NY Times