Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, argues in the book that Donald Trump was emotionally hobbled at a young age because his mother fell ill and his hard-charging, real-estate-developer father made no effort to take over childrearing duties.
“Donald is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information,” an excerpt on the book’s back jacket cover says. “Donald suffered deprivations that would scar him for life.”
Mary Trump’s account appears to be unsparing, according to a release from the publisher. She alleges that her uncle Donald values human beings “only…in monetary terms” and subscribes to “cheating as a way of life.”
Charles Harder, who frequently represents President Trump in lawsuits and arbitration actions and is leading the drive by Trump’s brother Robert to suppress the book, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new developments.
The announcement of the sped-up release is just the latest move in aggressive legal and public relations maneuvering around the book.
With President Trump’s backing, his brother Robert launched a legal drive last month to try to prevent publication of the book by contending that it violates a non-disclosure provision in a 2001 settlement agreement related to the estate of the president’s father, Fred, who died in 1999.
The litigation has met with mixed success. An initial foray in probate court in Queens fizzled, but last week, a state court judge in Poughkeepsie issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Mary Trump or Simon & Schuster from distributing or printing the book.
However, the following day, another New York judge narrowed that order by deleting the reference to Simon & Schuster.
That appeared to leave the storied publishing house free to proceed with publication, although there still appeared to be legal risk for the firm because the order still prohibits any “agent” of Mary Trump from taking steps to proceed with the book.
In an affidavit filed in the court case last Thursday, Mary Trump insisted that the release was out of her hands after the publisher accepted the manuscript in May.
“Once the book was formally accepted by Simon & Schuster, I lost any ability to prevent or delay the publication of the first edition of the book. Indeed, I have no control even over the publication date,” she wrote.
The judge who issued the temporary restraining order has set a deadline of Friday to complete legal filings related to a potential preliminary injunction against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster. That’s just four days before the new publication date.
In moving up the release, Simon & Schuster appears to be following the playbook it used recently with another hotly contested book about President Trump, former national security adviser John Bolton.
After initially delaying release of that book to allow for reviews for potential classified information, the publisher moved up the date before the Justice Department went to court to try to block the release. A judge declined to issue an injunction against the book, but he was sharply critical of Bolton’s tactics and he said distribution of advance copies to journalists made any court order futile.
Robert Trump’s lawyers have cited that example as a reason why the New York court should move swiftly to head off Mary Trump’s book.
Representatives of Simon & Schuster and Mary Trump have continued to denounce the litigation as an effort to stifle political dissent and as an affront to the First Amendment.
A spokesman for Mary Trump, Chris Bastardi, said in a statement Monday: “The act by a sitting president to muzzle a private citizen is just the latest in a series of disturbing behaviors which have already destabilized a fractured nation in the face of a global pandemic. If Mary cannot comment, one can only help but wonder: what is Donald Trump so afraid of?”
In theory, Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster could both be on the hook for damages if the lawsuit continues.
However, Mary Trump’s affidavit filed last week seems to threaten trouble for her uncle if the court case continues. She argues that she was tricked into signing the 2001 estate settlement because of an alleged pattern by Donald Trump of altering asset valuations to reduce his tax bills.
“I relied on the false valuations provided to me by my uncles and aunt, and would never have entered into the Agreement had I known the true value of the assets involved,” she wrote.
The tax-related allegations, published by the New York Times in October 2018 and also discussed by former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen before a House committee last year, are reportedly under investigation by prosecutors in New York.