President Donald Trump’s brother on Tuesday petitioned a New York court to block the publication of a book by Mary Trump that describes her uncle President Donald Trump as the “world’s most dangerous man.”
Presales of the book, scheduled for publication on July 28, have soared to the top of best-seller lists on the basis of a description from publisher Simon & Schuster that it will reveal decades of family secrets, including a “nightmare of traumas” that explain the psychology of the man who is now president.
President Trump told the Axios news service earlier this week that Mary Trump is “not allowed” to write the book because she signed a non-disclosure agreement in 2001 that settled her suit against Donald Trump and his siblings regarding her inheritance from her grandfather Fred Trump Sr., Donald Trump’s father. President Trump said the agreement was a “very powerful one” that “covers everything.”
In the petition to stop publication, President Trump’s brother Robert Trump said Mary Trump had agreed as part of a settlement related to the inheritance fight that she “would not publish any account” of her relationship with Donald Trump or his siblings.
The terms of the agreement, which were disclosed as part of the petition to stop the book, required that Mary Trump not “directly or indirectly publish” any account of her relationship with the Trump family unless she had permission from Donald Trump and his siblings. The terms of that agreement had not previously been made public.
The petition was filed in Queens County Surrogate’s Court in New York.
Mary Trump’s lawyer Theodore Boutrous said in a statement that the family’s effort to restrain publication should be tossed out.
“President Trump and his siblings seek to suppress a book that will discuss matters of utmost public importance,” he said. “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.”
President Trump and his allies have made or threatened numerous efforts to block books by journalists and former staffers, and his administration most recently failed to stop publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s highly critical memoir, “The Room Where it Happened,” which Simon & Schuster published Tuesday.
But an effort to stop the publication by a member of his family is unprecedented and is bound to bring even more attention to it. In the case of the Bolton book, the contents had already been leaked and volumes printed by the time President Trump tried to stop it. In the case of Mary Trump’s book, its contents remain closely guarded by the publisher and it is not clear whether the printing run has begun.
Julia Prosser, a spokeswoman for Simon & Schuster, said in a statement that “the courts take a dim view of prior restraint, and this 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.”
The New York Times first reported that the Trump family is seeking a restraining order against the book.
Robert Trump could not be reached for comment. His attorney Charles Harder provided a statement from Robert Trump that said: “I am deeply disappointed in my niece Mary’s decision to write a book concerning our family. Her attempt to sensationalize and mischaracterize our family relationship after all of these years for her own financial gain is both a travesty and injustice to the memory of my late brother Fred and our beloved parents. I and the rest of my entire family are so proud of my wonderful brother, the President, and feel that Mary’s actions are truly a disgrace.”
Mary Trump has long been at odds with her family. Her father, Fred Trump Jr., died of alcoholism when she was 16 years old. Friends of her father told The Washington Post last year that they had questions about whether the family failed to help him and whether they might have prevented his death.
President Trump, in an interview with The Post last year, said that he made mistakes in dealing with his brother, and that he regretted trying to push Fred Trump Jr. to go into the family business instead of becoming an airline pilot.
“I do regret having put pressure on him,” President Trump said, in a rare acknowledgment of making a mistake.
Mary Trump and her brother Fred Trump III sued Donald and Robert Trump and another sibling, alleging that they did not receive the inheritance that they believed they were promised. Donald Trump responded by cutting off medical assistance to Fred III’s son, who has cerebral palsy.
At the time, Mary Trump was angry at the way the family treated her and her brother.
“Given this family, it would be utterly naive to say it has nothing to do with money,” she told the New York Daily News in 2000.
Donald Trump said in the interview with The Post that after the suit was settled, “we all get along.” Mary Trump’s book, if it is published, apparently will tell a different story.
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Michael Kranish