New York State Supreme Court Judge Hal B. Greenwald on Monday cleared the way for Mary L. Trump to publish—and to promote—her much anticipated tell-all Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. In a July 13 opinion, delivered just hours before the book's official July 14 release date, Greenwald denied the Trump family's efforts to block the author and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, from publishing the book, and vacated a temporary restraining order against the author in place since June 30.
The decision is a resounding defeat for President Donald J. Trump. In filing suit this past June, lawyers for the president's brother, Robert S. Trump, who is represented in the case by President Trump's personal lawyer, Charles B. Harder, had maintained that the matter was "a mere contract dispute” and argued that a sweeping confidentiality clause tucked into the 2001 settlement of Fred Trump Sr.'s estate precluded the signatories, including Mary L. Trump, from speaking in any way about the family, including by publishing a memoir.
In the closely-watched legal drama that ensued, lawyers for Mary L. Trump and for publisher Simon & Schuster denied that the confidentiality clause in question was applicable, and argued that blocking publication would amount to an unconstitutional prior restraint on core political speech. And in his 20-page opinion and order, Greenwald soundly rejected virtually every argument offered by Robert S. Trump's legal team, including a finding that the broad confidentiality clause at issue was in fact "a stipulation" in the context of the 2001 estate settlement agreement, and not the broad prohibition the plaintiff claims it to be.
"Simply put, plaintiff claims the goal of the agreement was to prevent confidential information from being released. Was that so? Wasn’t the agreement a stipulation to settle multiple lawsuits? Make payments to several parties? There was no specific consideration given to anyone for confidentiality," Greenwald observes. "The consideration was provided to settle disputes. The parties agreed to keep the settlement under seal. That’s it."
Calling the allegations in the Trump family suit "unsupported and conclusory," Greenwald held that there was simply no evidence showing that Robert S. Trump, the president's younger brother and the named plaintiff in the case, would suffer any "imminent, irreparable harm" if the book was published. "Irreparable harm must be demonstrated, it is not obtained via a contract clause," Greenwald held, saying the allegations put forth lacked "any specifics" as to how Robert S. Trump, as the named plaintiff, would be injured by the book.
On the other hand, Greenwald did find that an injunction barring publication would cause harm—to the public, to the author, and to the publisher, Simon & Schuster. "The real possibility here is for S&S and the public to be irreparably harmed if the book was enjoined," Greenwald wrote, concluding that barring publication of the book would in fact represent an unlawful prior restraint. "[To] impose an injunction herein upon S&S, a book publisher who received information from a potential author that may have violated an Agreement to which it was not a party," the opinion states, "would be found to be unconstitutional."
In declining to block publication, Greenwald specifically acknowledged the political implications of the Trump family's change in profile since the 2001 settlement agreement was struck. "Remember, at the time the agreement was agreed upon, the Trump family were New York based real estate developers and not much else. They were not elected officials or TV personalities. The issues that were the subject of the agreement were intra-family issues, not of worldwide concern, or even national interest." But in 2020, Greenwald acknowledged, "the Trump family is global."
In a statement, Mary L. Trump's lawyer, Theodore Boutros, praised the decision. “The court got it right in rejecting the Trump family’s effort to squelch Mary Trump’s core political speech on important issues of public concern," he said. "The First Amendment forbids prior restraints because they are intolerable infringements on the right to participate in democracy."
Officials at Simon & Schuster also praised the decision. "The unfettered right to publish is a sacred American freedom and a founding principle of our republic, and we applaud the court for affirming well-established precedents against prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions," an S&S statement reads.
At press time, lawyers for Robert S. Trump had yet to comment, but in a previous statement, lead attorney Charles B. Harder insisted that short of "corrective action" his client would "pursue this case to the very end.”
Whether or not this is the end of the litigation remains to be seen. But the book is now published, and Mary L. Trump is now free to speak. “Now that the unconstitutional gag order has finally been lifted," reads a statement from the author's reps, "we are sure the White House and America are looking forward to finally hearing what Mary has to say.”
Indeed, Simon & Schuster officials report that the book has set a new company record for first day sales, notching more than 950,000 on its first day of publication, no doubt fueled by the headlines stemming from the litigation.
This story has been updated with further information.