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Verdicts & Settlements

Court Says Simon & Schuster Can Publish Tell-All Book on President Donald Trump’s Upbringing

— July 2, 2020

A New York appellate judge found that even though Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, is bound by a confidentiality agreement, publisher Simon & Schuster is not.

A New York appeals judge will permit publisher Simon & Schuster to release a tell-all book written by President Donald Trump’s niece, Mary L. Trump.

According to The New York Times, appellate Judge Alan D. Scheinkman ruled on Wednesday that Simon & Schuster may publish “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous man” as planned at the end of July.

In a Tuesday hearing, notes the Times, Simon & Schuster claimed that restricting sales of the book would be detrimental to its business. The publisher said that tens of thousands of copies had already been printed—and that Mary Trump’s tell-all is already a bestseller on Amazon.

President Donald Trump’s brother, Robert Trump, had earlier filed two lawsuits: one against Mary Trump, and another against Simon & Schuster. Both sought to suppress publication of “Too Much and Never Enough,” on grounds that Mary Trump was not authorized to talk about Trump family affairs.

In both cases, Robert Trump claims his niece is forbidden by a nondisclosure agreement from talking about family affairs. The same confidentiality agreement was signed by several members of the Trump family during disagreements over the settlement of Fred Trump’s estate.

Judge Scheinkman, however, did not address the lawsuit’s central argument as to whether Mary Trump could publish a tell-all book. Instead, Scheinkman focused on the publisher, finding that Simon & Schuster was not a party to the confidentiality agreement and therefore cannot be bound by its terms.

Trump signing a document to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Image via White House/(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead). Public domain.

“Unlike Ms. Trump, S&S has not agreed to surrender or relinquish any of its First Amendment rights,” Scheinkman wrote.

Simon & Schuster, says the New York Times, was quick to interpret the ruling as a sure 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,” Simon & Schuster said in a statement. “As all know, there are well-established precedents against prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions.”

The Times notes that Scheinkman’s decision overrides another ruling passed Tuesday by Dutchess County Supreme Court Judge Hal Greenwald.

Greenwald, in his ruling, ordered a temporary a temporary injunction against the book’s publication, scheduling a hearing in mid-July. But Simon & Schuster approached Greenwald within hours of his decision, arguing that they were not aware of Mary L. Trump’s confidentiality agreement until Robert Trump filed his lawsuit.

“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 Jonathon Karp said in an affidavit. “And we never saw any purported agreement until this action was filed against Ms. Trump and Simon & Schuster.”

Scheinkman did acknowledge that it is not unsurprising that the Trump family might seek to impose confidentiality restrictions upon its members, given the Trumps’ prominence.

But Scheinkman also opined that the agreement—signed nearly two decades ago—may not reflect present circumstances, which have been significantly altered by Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.

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

Theodore Boutrous Jr., an attorney for Mary Trump, said he plans to appeal the lower court’s ruling on Thursday. He hopes that the court will find that Mary Trump, like Simon & Schuster, is not bound by the nondisclosure agreement.

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

The book is expected to reveal Mary Trump as the primary source behind a New York Times series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles on the Trump family’s finances. It also seeks to portray Donald Trump’s abrasive personality and crass manner as a consequence of a dysfunctional family upbringing.

“This book, which addresses matters of great concern and importance about a sitting president in an election year, should not be suppressed for even one day,” Boutrous said.


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