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New York court sides with publisher of explosive book by President Trump’s niece

Fred Trump Jr., the father of Mary Trump, in an undated photo.
Fred Trump Jr., the father of Mary Trump, in an undated photo. (Annamaria Forcier)
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A New York court on Wednesday lifted a temporary restraining order against the publication of a book by President Trump’s niece, enabling publisher Simon & Schuster to continue printing and distributing the explosive insider account by Mary L. Trump.

President Trump’s brother, Robert, filed a petition last week asking that Mary Trump and the publisher be prevented from publishing the book, citing a confidentiality agreement signed by Mary Trump two decades ago as part of a settlement in an inheritance dispute.

On Tuesday, a state Supreme Court judge agreed to impose the restraining order to allow the parties to present their arguments next week, raising doubts about whether it would be published.

However, the Supreme Court’s appellate division on Wednesday lifted the restraining order that had been imposed on Simon & Schuster, while leaving in place the one regarding Mary Trump. That effectively enables the publisher to continue distributing copies of the book in preparation for the planned July 28 publication, even as the overall merits of the case are argued.

Judge Alan D. Scheinkman, in lifting the restraining order against the publisher, wrote that “whatever legitimate public interest there may have been in the family disputes of a real estate developer and his relatives may be considerably heightened by that real estate developer now being President of the United States and a current candidate for re-election.”

Mary Trump once stood up to her uncle Donald. Now her book describes a ‘nightmare’ of family dysfunction.

Mary Trump’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous Jr., said that he plans to file a detailed brief on Thursday explaining why he believes the restraining order on his client should also be lifted.

“It is very good news that the prior restraint against Simon & Schuster has been vacated, and we look forward to filing our brief [Thursday] 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 a statement.

Although the appellate division lifted the temporary restraining order, the effort by Robert Trump to gain a temporary injunction against publication is expected to continue. Robert Trump’s lawyer, Charles J. Harder, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Simon & Schuster said in a statement that it was gratified with the decision to overturn the temporary restraining order and, citing what it called “well-established precedents against prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions,” said it is confident that the effort to impose a preliminary injunction also will be denied.

Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” has rocketed to the top of bestseller lists based on advance orders after a blizzard of publicity about how she would provide an insider account of the family that shaped the man who became president.

A description of the book from the publisher suggests it will draw heavily on her studies of family dysfunction, with Mary, who is 55, using her clinical background as a psychologist to dissect “a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse,” including “the strange and harmful relationship between” her late father and Donald Trump.

A key part of the book is expected to be the circumstances of how her father — President Trump’s older brother, Fred Jr. — died of an alcohol-related illness when she was 16 years old in 1981, an event that President Trump has also said shaped him.

After Mary Trump’s grandfather Fred Sr. died in 1999, she and her brother Fred III waged a fight against others in the Trump family over their inheritance, asserting that they were being given far less than expected. The dispute was settled confidentially in 2001, and Robert Trump cited that agreement in saying Mary Trump had agreed not to publish anything about the family.

In the ruling Wednesday, Scheinkman noted that the confidential agreement barred each side from disclosing the terms of the settlement or “publishing any description of the litigation or their relationships” without the consent of all parties. Although Mary Trump had agreed in that settlement that she or her agent could be subject to penalty if it was violated, Scheinkman said he did not find that Simon & Schuster qualified as her agent because it was not party to the original agreement.

Simon & Schuster said in a filing on Tuesday that it had not been aware of the terms of the settlement, but it said that it still had the right to publish the book without prior restraint.

Shayna Jacobs contributed to this report.