The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Publication of explosive tell-all book by Trump’s niece temporarily blocked by New York state judge

President Trump’s family has sought to bar the publication of a book by his niece.
President Trump’s family has sought to bar the publication of a book by his niece. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
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A New York judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the publication of Mary L. Trump’s scathing book about her uncle, President Trump, which describes him as the “world’s most dangerous man,” saying no copies can be distributed until he hears arguments in the case.

The order leaves it uncertain whether the book will be published as scheduled on July 28.

Judge Hal B. Greenwald ordered a hearing next month on a request for an injunction by Trump’s brother Robert, who has argued that Mary Trump is not allowed to publish anything about her family as part of a settlement in an inheritance case.

His attorney, Charles J. Harder, said in a statement Tuesday that he would seek the “maximum remedies available” for the “truly reprehensible” actions of Mary Trump and her publisher, which he said have caused “enormous damages” to his client.

“Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end,” Harder said.

Mary Trump’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr., said in a statement that while the judge’s order is temporary, “it still is a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment. 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.”

Simon & Schuster said it also plans to appeal, adding in a statement that it looks forward “to prevailing in this case based on well-established precedents regarding prior restraint.”

The book, titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” has already ascended to the top of bestseller lists based on presales, underscoring the intense interest in a rare insider account by a Trump family member.

In promotional material for the book, the publisher said Mary Trump “shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.”

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

Simon & Schuster said in a filing late Tuesday night that it had already printed 75,000 copies and argued that it would be unconstitutional to stop it from distributing the book.

At the same time, the publisher for the first time said that it did not know until recently that Mary Trump had signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of the inheritance settlement.

“We did not learn anything about Ms. Trump signing any agreement concerning her ability to speak about her litigation with her family until shortly after press broke concerning Ms. Trump’s Book about two weeks ago, well after the Book had been accepted, put into production, and printing had begun,” Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp said in an affidavit filed Tuesday night. “And we never saw any purported agreement until this action was filed against Ms. Trump and Simon & Schuster.”

While it has long been known that the inheritance case was settled confidentially, the terms of that agreement were not made public until Robert Trump filed his petition last week to stop publication the book.

Karp in his affidavit also confirmed that Mary Trump was the “primary source” for an investigation by The New York Times into the Trump family finances, which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, as the Daily Beast first reported.

Karp said that “knowing that no litigation resulted from the Times article, we were entirely confident in Ms. Trump’s ability to tell her story regarding her own family.”

Karp said that even though the publication date is set for July 28, it may be too late to stop revelations in the book from being reported.

He said that “thousands” of the printed copies “have already been shipped.”

Boutrous, asked to respond to Karp’s statement that he didn’t know about the confidentiality agreement, said in an email to The Washington Post that “we will be filing our brief Wednesday for Ms. Trump and will explain why this 20-year-old agreement is invalid, inapplicable and unenforceable.”

Mary Trump spent years pursuing an education that led her to become a clinical psychologist, as The Post recently reported. Using that background, she explores the “nightmare of traumas” within the Trump family, according to the publisher.

“She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald,” according to the book’s description.

Mary Trump’s father, Fred Jr. — the older brother of President Trump — died of an alcohol-related disease when she was 16 years old in 1981, an event that had a deep impact on the family.

President Trump said in an interview with The Post last year that he made mistakes in dealing with his brother and regretted pushing him to join the family business.

Mary Trump was involved in a bitter dispute in the family over an expected inheritance when her grandfather Fred Sr. died in 1999. She and her brother, Fred III, said in court papers that someone in or connected to the Trump family got Fred Sr. to change his will and give them less than they expected.