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Judge temporarily blocks publication of Donald Trump's niece's tell-all book

Mary Cadden
USA TODAY

After striking out in their first foray in court, the Trump family got a reprieve Tuesday from the threat of a tell-all book by one of their own. For now.

A New York judge temporarily blocked publication of Mary Trump's book about her uncle, President Donald Trump, to await more information before deciding whether to block publication permanently.

Mary Trump's lawyer immediately vowed to appeal on First Amendment grounds.

Judge Hal B. Greenwald issued a temporary restraining order in Poughkeepsie, New York, requiring Mary Trump and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, to explain why the publication of her book should not be blocked. A hearing was set for July 10.

The book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” by the president's niece, cannot be published until the judge reviews the merits of claims by the president’s brother, Robert Trump, that its publication would violate a pact among family members.

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According to the publisher, the book, scheduled to be published July 28, is a  "revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him."

The Washington Post reports that Simon & Schuster said in a filing late Tuesday night that it had already printed 75,000 copies and argued that it would be unconstitutional to stop it from distributing the book.

The book's description says Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, "shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric."

Mary Trump, 55, is the niece of both Trump brothers as the daughter of their elder brother, the late Fred Trump Jr. 

In court papers, Robert Trump maintained Mary Trump was part of a settlement almost 20 years ago that included a confidentiality clause explicitly saying members of the family would not “publish any account concerning the litigation or their relationship,” unless they all agreed.

Last week, a New York City judge dismissed a claim by Robert Trump that sought to halt publication, saying the court lacked jurisdiction in the case. Surrogate's Court Judge Peter Kelly said the claims were not appropriate for his court, where disputes over estate matters are settled.

Judge Greenwald said Tuesday no portion of the book can be distributed before he decides the validity of Robert Trump’s claims. Robert Trump argues the book cannot be published without permission from other family members.

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Mary Trump’s lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., and Simon & Schuster promised an immediate appeal.

“The trial court’s temporary restraining order is only temporary but it still is a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment,” Boutrous said in a statement. "This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in election year, should not be suppressed even for one day.” 

According to Adam Rothberg, a Simon & Schuster spokesperson, the publisher is "disappointed." 

"We plan to immediately appeal this decision to the Appellate Division, and look forward to prevailing in this case based on well-established precedents regarding prior restraint."

Charles Harder, an attorney for Robert Trump, said his client was “very pleased.” He said in a statement that the actions by Mary Trump and her publisher were “truly reprehensible.”

“We look forward to vigorously litigating this case, and will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages,” Harder said. “Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end.”

Harder is a California attorney known for representing celebrity clients in legal battles with the media, including first lady Melania Trump. In April 2017, his exertions on her behalf forced Britain's Daily Mail tabloid to retract, apologize and pay the first lady millions in damages to settle lawsuits she filed for publishing unsubstantiated "racy" rumors about her years as a single model in New York.

Harder also is known as the lawyer who represented Hulk Hogan in his invasion of privacy lawsuit against online publication Gawker for posting portions of a sex tape he was featured in. In March 2016, a Florida jury found Gawker liable and awarded a total of $140 million in damages. Months later Gawker filed for bankruptcy. 

Contributing: Maria Puente, USA TODAY, Larry Neumeister and Michael Balsamo, Associated Press