A New York judge on Thursday rejected on jurisdictional grounds a legal effort by President Donald Trump’s brother to halt the publication next month of a tell-all book by the president’s niece, Mary Trump — but the brother’s lawyer said the case will be refiled in another court.
The ruling in Queens County Surrogate’s Court by Judge Peter Kelly came just two days after Trump’s brother, Robert Trump, said in a court filing that Mary Trump would be violating a nondisclosure agreement if the book is published.
The president himself recently said that his niece, who is the daughter of his late older brother Fred Trump Jr., is subject to the nondisclosure agreement, and is “not allowed to write a book.”
The NDA was signed by the clinical psychologist Mary and her brother with the president, Robert and the elder Trumps’ sister, retired federal appeals court Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, as part of a settlement of a court battle over the will of the president’s late father, Fred Trump Sr.
Mary’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” is scheduled to be published on July 28.
Its publisher, Simon & Schuster, has said the book is a “revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him.” Mary Trump is expected in the book to confirm that she was the primary source for The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning series about President Trump’s finances.
Kelly, in his ruling Thursday, found “several improprieties” with Robert Trump’s bid to block the book’s publication.
In particular, Kelly noted, the filing was done in connection with a probate proceeding in Surrogate’s Court for the estate of Fred Trump Sr., the late real estate developer.
That probate case terminated in 2001, and as a result is “non-existent” in Surrogate’s Court, Kelly wrote.
Kelly suggested that Robert Trump could pursue his request for an injunction against Mary Trump and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, in New York State Supreme Court.
Robert’s lawyer, Charles Harder, told CNBC in a statement that he would do just that.
“Robert Trump, Mary Trump and the other family members who settled in 2001, agreed to jurisdiction of future disputes in the Surrogate’s Court of Queens County, New York,” Harder said.
“This matter therefore was filed in that court. Today, the Surrogate’s Court ruled that it does not have jurisdiction over the dispute. Therefore, Robert Trump will proceed with filing a new lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court,” said Harder.
The lawyer is known for representing President Trump, including in a lawsuit filed by adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Mary Trump’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous, in a statement to CNBC, praised the decision, saying, “The court has promptly and correctly held that it lacks jurisdiction to grant the Trump family’s baseless request to suppress a book of utmost public importance.”
“We hope this decision will end the matter,” Boutros said.
“Democracy thrives on the free exchange of ideas, and neither this court nor any other has authority to violate the Constitution by imposing a prior restraint on core political speech.”
Simon & Schuster, in a statement, said, “We are delighted with Judge Kelly’s decision to dismiss this case from the Surrogate Court.”
“We look forward to publishing Mary L. Trump’s TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH, and are confident we will prevail should there be further efforts to stifle this publication,” the publisher said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.
The Daily Beast earlier Thursday reported that Robert Trump, 72, initiated the court action days after being discharged from Mount Sinai Hospital’s neurosciences intensive care unit since at least June 11 with what the news site said was a serious condition.
Robert Trump had told the Times in a statement earlier this week that his niece’s “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,” Robert Trump said.