Judge Sides with Publisher of Trump Niece's Tell-All — with Final Ruling on Book's Fate Still to Come
"The legitimate interest in preserving family secrets may be one thing for the family of a real estate developer, no matter how successful," the judge wrote. "It is another matter for the family of the President of the United States"
A New York appellate judge ruled Wednesday that the publisher of an upcoming tell-all about Donald Trump and his family is not bound by the same confidentiality agreement that its author, the president's niece Mary Trump, signed years ago.
Mary's book, Too Much and Never Enough, is scheduled for release on July 28; news of the memoir first leaked in June.
The book — which the publisher calls "revelatory," based in part on Mary's time around her grandparents, aunts and uncles — has been the subject of a court battle between her and President Trump's younger brother, Robert Trump, who sued late last month.
"She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse," the description for Mary's memoir reads. "She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office."
At the center of the dispute is whether Mary broke a nondisclosure agreement she signed in 2001, which Robert argues would bar her and any of her representatives from publishing the book.
A New York Supreme Court judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order against Mary and Simon & Schuster, her publisher, pending a July 10 hearing on Robert's suit.
But Judge Alan D. Scheinkman, on appeal, agreed Wednesday night with Simon & Schuster that the company was never a party to Mary's confidentiality agreement and lifted the restraining order on the company while keeping the order imposed on Mary.
"Unlike Ms. Trump, S&S has not agreed to surrender or relinquish any of its First Amendment rights," Scheinkman wrote in his decision.
He wrote that he was not suggesting a decision on the ultimate matter of Robert's lawsuit and whether the book should be blocked, though he noted that the same secrecy the Trump family may have been entitled to two decades ago, in connection with a family fight over money, may no longer apply given President Trump's influence.
"The legitimate interest in preserving family secrets may be one thing for the family of a real estate developer, no matter how successful; it is another matter for the family of the President of the United States," he wrote.
Scheinkman's decision also suggests the courts may side with Simon & Schuster's argument that — regardless of what confidentiality Mary agreed to — they are not bound by any such restriction and cannot be stopped from publishing a manuscript that was delivered to them in May, then bound, printed and shipped to retailers last week.
“It is very good news that the prior restraint against Simon & Schuster has been vacated, and we look forward to filing our brief tomorrow [Friday] in the trial court explaining why the same result is required as to Ms. Trump, based on the First Amendment and basic contract law," Mary's attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr., said in a statement to PEOPLE.
Charles Harder, Robert's attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for Simon & Schuster said in a statement that Mary's book is "a work of great interest and importance to the national discourse that fully deserves to be published for the benefit of the American public."
"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 spokesman said.
Simon & Schuster's CEO said earlier this week in an affidavit that they were not aware of Mary's confidentiality agreement with other members of her family, including President Trump, until about two weeks ago and that they had already printed some 75,000 copies of her book, "thousands of which have already been shipped."
In a previous statement to The New York Times, Robert called Mary's book a "disgrace."
"The actions of Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster are truly reprehensible," Harder said earlier this week. "We look forward to vigorously litigating this case, and will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages caused by Mary Trump’s breach of contract and Simon & Schuster’s intentional interference with that contract. Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end."