In the Trump Administration, it seems that each day brings a new NDA. From Stormy Daniels to Michael Cohen to John Bolton, NDA litigation has become the signature litigation issue of the Trump presidency. Now, President Donald Trump has invoked a NDA in response to a new tell-all book by his niece Mary Trump.
Mary Trump’s book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man is expected to be released soon. The book reportedly will also confirm that she was a source for the The New York Times on Trump’s financial dealings.
The disclosures allegedly run afoul of a nondisclosure agreement, according to President Trump. He told Axios “She’s not allowed to write a book. You know, when we settled with her and her brother, who I do have a good relationship with — she’s got a brother, Fred, who I do have a good relationship with, but when we settled, she has a total … signed a nondisclosure.”
The NDA was reportedly the result of a settlement in 2001. Mary Trump was at loggerheads with President Trump after the 1981 death of her father and President Trump’s brother, Fred. Trump Jr. She and her brother Fred Trump III claimed that President Trump and his siblings had undue influence over their grandfather and his will. She will reportedly allege that they were retaliated against by President Trump and his brother Robert and Maryanne, including the cutting off of medical benefits for their nephew’s son who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Maryanne Trump Barry was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. The inclusion of her in the book’s allegation could pull her into any NDA litigation. She took senior status on June 30, 2011 and then inactive status two weeks after President Trump’s inauguration. When she retired, there were allegations that she had engaged in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings. However, that investigation was never complete. Notably, the allegations involved efforts to limit estate tax and gift tax liability stemming from Fred Trump’s real estate enterprises. She (nor her sibling) were ever found to have acted improperly in the matter.
President Trump is threatening litigation over his niece’s book and insists that the NDA is a “very powerful one. … It covers everything.” New reports state that it certainly covers “anything regarding the litigation or her relationship with Donald, Maryanne, and Robert.”
Any litigation could not only address the book itself but any disclosures make to the New York Times. In that way, it adds added element for a court. President Trump could seek evidence on communications with the The New York Times as relevant to violations of the NDA — discovery that would likely be steadfastly opposed by the newspaper. The possibility of pulling the newspaper into the case and its discovery could be an added incentive for President Trump. What is clear is that one of the most pronounced and curious parts of President Trump’s legacy will be left on the law of nondisclosure agreements. This is an area that is fast becoming virtually synonymous with Trump and his presidency.