Just hours after startling revelations were made public about Mary Trump’s highly anticipated Trump family tell-all Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man, the president’s brother made a fervent plea to a judge to continue a gag order against his niece.
At the heart of Robert Trump’s legal arguments is the claim that if not stopped, the book could undermine and destabilize all private confidentiality agreements like the one Mary Trump signed in the disposition of family patriarch Fred Trump’s estate. Both Mary Trump and publisher Simon & Schuster have asserted that they have a First Amendment right to disseminate the information despite the non-disclosure deal.
Celebrity attorney Charles Harder, representing the elder generation of Trumps, insisted that Mary Trump’s depiction of her family in the memoir—which The Daily Beast first reported was “harrowing and salacious” last month—is not protected political speech. Instead, he said, the situation resembles copyright infringement cases in which courts have held the First Amendment does not apply.
“Her descriptions and accounts of her ‘relationship’ with Donald Trump are personal observations, not political commentary,” Harder argued. “Like the rules permitting the enforcement of copyrights and trademarks, the rule that private contracts are enforceable is not a content-based restriction on speech.”
Further, Harder maintained that book publishers such as Simon & Schuster do not enjoy the same protections the Supreme Court has afforded to news organizations. This reasoning seems to rest on what he claimed is a fundamental difference in how the two different kinds of media function as a business and obtain information.
Journalists enjoy the right to publish material obtained through unlawful means because, Harder wrote, they “passively receive, from sources, information independently obtained.” But Harder asserted book publishers are inherently complicit in the offending act—and profit in conjunction with the writer—and thus are subject to legal restrictions reporters do not face.
“Book publishers pay their authors to create books under lucrative publishing contracts; the manuscripts are then edited by employees of the publisher, as well as the author, in a collaborative process before publication,” he continued. “No case has ever extended the special privileges of newsgathering to book publishers.”
Harder further accused Simon & Schuster of several “bad faith actions,” including shipping copies of the book to distributors despite knowing of Mary Trump’s confidentiality agreement, and then attempting to argue that “the horse was out of the barn.” Were Judge Greenwald to decide the case in the author or publisher’s favor, it would establish a dangerous new loophole in confidentiality agreements, Harder argues.
“Any author, under any legal restriction, even one that included an agreement to submit to injunctive relief, would simply need to find a publisher willing to quickly get the book into distribution,” he wrote. “This would become the go-to approach for anyone subject to a legitimate confidentiality agreement they wished to breach. Simply find a publisher and put it in a book.”
A rep for Simon & Schuster did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier Tuesday, The Daily Beast, after obtaining a copy of the book, published many of its damning revelations, including that Trump is said to have paid a friend to take the SAT for him when he was applying to college, his sister and former federal court judge Maryanne called him a “clown” after he announced his run for the White House, and as his brother Fred Jr. died in a hospital from complications with alcoholism he went to the movies.
The Daily Beast first reported that the book would see Mary “outing” herself as the primary source of The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of the president’s taxes, helping to reveal how he received more than $400 million from his father’s real estate empire and was involved in “fraudulent” tax schemes. As she reveals in the book, Mary supplied the paper with Fred Trump Sr.’s tax returns and other highly confidential financial information.
Mary Trump’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr., told The Daily Beast in a statement late Tuesday, “Robert Trump’s brief defies the First Amendment, ignores basic contract law and fails completely to justify a prior restraint muzzling Mary Trump from publishing her book and engaging in core political speech about the President based on her own experiences and observations.”
The book, which is No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list, goes on sale Tuesday. People familiar with the matter say Mary is readying for a major media tour to promote it in spite of the existence of the temporary restraining order.
The White House hit back in a statement Tuesday claiming Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster were acting in “financial self-interest.”
“President Trump has been in office for over three years working on behalf of the American people—why speak out now?” White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews said.
“The President describes the relationship he had with his father as warm and said his father was very good to him. He said his father was loving and not at all hard on him as a child. Also, the absurd SAT allegation is completely false.”