If Donald Trump Wants To Help Niece Mary Sell Books, Suing Her Is A Pretty Good Way To Do It!
Yesterday, an appellate judge in New York tossed out the lower court's temporary restraining order (TRO) barring Simon & Schuster from publishing Mary Trump's book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. Donald Trump AHEM we mean his brother Robert Trump sued to stop his niece from publishing her tell-all about the president, asserting the right to gag her under the 2001 agreement that settled the litigation over Fred Trump Sr.'s will. Obviously the publisher wasn't part of that settlement, so the appellate court ruled that it cannot be bound by its terms. Womp womp!
Mary Trump is still subject to the injunction, but, as a practical matter, that makes exactly zero difference. The book is coming out in three weeks, whether Mary Trump gets to do a publicity tour or not, and the only thing accomplished by this litigation has been to push her book up in the bestseller rankings. Because Donald Trump is bigly smart at media!
Last night, Mary Trump's lawyer Ted Boutros filed a motion to reverse the TRO against his client as well, and it is beautiful. Among other things, he alleges that the confidentiality agreement is void because Donald Trump and his siblings Maryanne Trump Barry and Robert Trump submitted bullshit valuations of their father (and Mary's grandfather) Fred Trump's assets to get Mary Trump and her brother to settle their litigation over the old man's will. In lawtalk, we call that "fraud in the inducement," and it's not, like, a good thing.
Speaking of lawtalk, there's a famous lawyer joke about a farmer whose cabbage patch is destroyed by his neighbor's goat. The farmer sues, and the neighbor's defense proceeds thusly:
"You had no cabbages."
"If you had any cabbages, they were not eaten."
"If your cabbages were eaten, it was not by a goat."
"If your cabbages were eaten by a goat, it wasn't my goat."
"And if it was my goat, he was insane."
Yes, lawyers are a wild bunch! The point is, we call this "arguing in the alternative," and Boutros's brief is a truly spectacular specimen.
First he argues that the TRO on Mary Trump is moot, because Simon & Schuster has already printed and shipped the book, so the information is coming out anyway.
But if it's not moot, then the TRO is an illegal prior restraint on Mary Trump's exercise of her First Amendment right to free speech on a topic of broad public interest, particularly in the runup to an election.
If it's not an illegal prior restraint, then the settlement agreement (which Robert Trump carefully redacted in his pleading, only excerpting the parts advantageous to his case, but which Mary Trump is including in its entirety for the judge's examination) only covers the litigation regarding the family business, not every comment the parties might make about each other forever and ever.
If the settlement agreement does cover matters outside the family business, Robert Trump has already breached it by publishing excerpts of the confidentiality agreement in his pleadings, without filing them under seal.
If publishing the excerpts in the pleading didn't void the agreement, then Donald and Robert Trump's multiple public comments about Mary Trump and her brother Fred III do constitute a breach, so as to void Mary Trump's confidentiality obligations.
If Trump's shittalking didn't void the agreement, then New York law won't allow a contract that binds its signers in "perpetual obligation" without very specific language saying that they mean it to last forever.
If the contract can last forever, then it's void because Donald, Maryanne, and Robert Trump lied about the the value of their father's assets to get Mary and her brother Fred to sign off on the deal.
If the contract wasn't fraudulent in the inducement, then it's void anyway because Apartment Management Association, one of the parties to the suit which would have to sign off on disclosures under the agreement, no longer exists.
If the contract isn't void, then a restraining order is an extraordinary remedy to prevent "irreparable harm," and Robert Trump hasn't proved that he'll be harmed at all, much less irreparably, by anything in the book about his brother.
If Robert Trump suffered harm, then the appropriate remedy is to sue for monetary damages, not an injunction.
And if the remedy is a suit for damages, then Charles Harder should BRING IT, BITCH, because this ain't California, and Ted Boutros is not about to be bullied by some dick-swinging thug from the Left Coast.
Okay, that last one was implied. Anyway, the book is now Number 4 on Amazon's Non-Fiction bestseller list, despite not being available to read until the end of the month. John Bolton's book is Number 1, of course. But sue away, Mister President.
So much winning!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.