The Trump family is wasting no time taking legal action against the president’s niece in an effort to halt publication of her soon-to-be-released book, and they’ve turned to the powerful celebrity lawyer Charles Harder to do it, The Daily Beast has learned.
Just days after Donald Trump said Mary Trump was “not allowed” to write such a tome, citing a “very powerful” NDA she had signed that the president claimed “covers everything,” the president’s brother, Robert S. Trump, has filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in Queens County Surrogate’s court.
The news, first reported by The New York Times, was shared with The Daily Beast earlier in the day by two people familiar with the matter. A third person with knowledge of the situation said that discussions with the president himself regarding what to “do about the Mary thing”—both legally and from a public-relations standpoint—had been ongoing “for days.” According to The Times, the request for the order was filed in Queens County surrogate’s court, the same court that was the scene of a messy family legal fight in 2000 over the estate of Trump’s father, Fred, that was ultimately settled a year later resulting in Mary and her brother, also named Fred, signing a non-disclosure agreement.
On Monday, Harder emailed Simon and Schuster’s general counsel, Veronica Jordan, saying he was acting as litigation counsel for Robert Trump. Citing a “violation of the Separation Agreement dated April 10, 2001,” Harder wrote that his client intends “to move forthwith for a temporary restraining order in the Surrogate’s Court in Queen’s County,” according to the email that was obtained by The Daily Beast.
The application for the TRO, which is signed by Harder, calls for a judgement barring Mary Trump and Simon and Schuster from “publishing any descriptions or accounts of Mary L. Trump’s relationship” with Donald, Maryanne, or Robert.
Harder did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
For years, Harder has served as a personal lawyer to members of the Trump family, including to President Trump himself. Sources close to both men say that while Trump does not have a tight rapport with Harder in the same way that he does with other outside counsel—such as Jay Sekulow or Rudy Giuliani—the president values Harder as a blunt legal instrument, particularly in his legal threats and suits against enemies in the news media. Perhaps Harder’s most memorable and infamous legal achievement was bringing down the news and gossip website Gawker. During his time in office, President Trump has made a point of recommending to close associates that they retain Harder for their own legal squabbles and intimidation, according to two people who’ve heard Trump do this.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Mary Trump’s attorney, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., said:
“President Trump and his siblings seek to suppress a book that will discuss matters of utmost public importance. They are pursuing this unlawful prior restraint because they do not want the public to know the truth. The courts will not tolerate this brazen violation of the First Amendment.”
Julia Prosser, a spokesperson for Simon & Schuster, noted that courts have traditionally taken “a dim view of prior restraint” and said the attempt “to block publication will meet the same fate as those that have gone before. In Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, Mary Trump has written a compelling personal story of worldwide significance, and we look forward to helping her tell her story.”
Last week, The Daily Beast reported that the president was actively in discussion about siccing his attorneys on his own niece, and had been privately venting in the White House about how Mary had signed an NDA years ago. In an interview with Axios conducted on Friday and published Sunday, Trump discussed the existence of the NDA.
“You know, when we settled with her and her brother, who I do have a good relationship with—she's got a brother, Fred, who I do have a good relationship with, but when we settled, she has a total... signed a nondisclosure,” Trump said.
Asked by Axios about Mary’s allegation that he “dismissed and derided” his own dad when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, President Trump responded, “It’s totally false… Actually, the opposite. I always had a great relationship. I didn’t know that she said that. That’s a disgraceful thing to say.”
The Daily Beast was also first to report earlier this month that Mary Trump was set to release her book, Too Much and Never Enough, about her uncle and family. The book is said to contain information and accounts potentially humiliating to the president, and is currently scheduled to be released this July as Trump fights for reelection against former Vice President Joe Biden.
White House spokespeople and several Trump attorneys did not respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment on Tuesday afternoon.