By LARRY NEUMEISTER
FILE – In this Nov. 3, 1999 file photo, Robert Trump, left, joins real estate developer and presidential hopeful Donald Trump at an event in New York. A tell-all book by President Donald Trump’s niece cannot be published until a judge decides the merits of claims by the president’s brother, her uncle Robert Trump, that its publication would violate a pact among family members, a judge said Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for a publisher to distribute a tell-all book by President Donald Trump’s niece over the objections of the president’s brother.
The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division said it was lifting a temporary restraint that a judge put on Simon & Schuster a day earlier that sought to block distribution of “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”
Although the book was scheduled to be published on July 28, Simon & Schuster said thousands of copies of the 75,000-copy first run of the book had already been sent to bookstores and others.
The appeals ruling, written by Judge Alan D. Scheinkman, left in place restraints against Mary Trump, the book’s author and the president’s niece, after the president’s brother, Robert Trump, said she agreed with family members not to write about their relationships without permission.
Robert Trump had sued Mary Trump to block publication of a book promoted to contain an “insider’s perspective” of “countless holiday meals,” “family interactions" and “family events.”
An email seeking comment was sent to Robert Trump’s lawyer Wednesday. The appeals court noted it was ruling after hearing oral arguments from lawyers for Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster and before lawyers for Robert Trump submitted opposition papers.
Scheinkman left in place a restraint that blocked Mary Trump and any agent of hers from distributing the book, but the court made clear it was not considering the publisher to be an agent, though that issue could be decided in further proceedings at the lower court.
“The evidence submitted is insufficient for this Court to determine whether the plaintiff is likely to succeed in establishing that claim," the appeals court said in an opinion written by Judge Alan D. Scheinkman.
In court papers, the publisher said it was not aware of an agreement between Mary Trump and her relatives until she was sued.
In a statement, Simon and Schuster said it was gratified with the ruling, which it said would let Mary Trump tell her story. The publisher said the book was of “great interest and importance to the national discourse that fully deserves to be published for the benefit of the American public."
It added: “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."
Mary Trump’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous Jr., said in a statement it was “very good news that the prior restraint against Simon & Schuster has been vacated." He added that he believed a similar finding was necessary for Mary Trump, “based on the First Amendment and basic contract law.”
In ruling, Scheinkman said people are free to negotiate away their First Amendment rights, especially if they are compensated well, which Robert Trump maintains that she was.
But he noted that “while parties are free to enter into confidentiality agreements, courts are not necessarily obligated to specifically enforce them."
The judge wrote that “whatever legitimate public interest there may have been in the family disputes of a real estate developer and his relatives may be considerably heightened by that real estate developer now being President of the United States and a current candidate for reelection."
He added: “Stated differently, 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."
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this story.
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