By LARRY NEUMEISTER and JILL COLVIN Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s niece offers a scathing portrayal of her uncle in a new book obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday that blames a toxic family for raising a narcissistic, damaged man who poses an immediate danger to the public.
Mary L. Trump, a psychologist, writes that Trump is a compulsive liar whose reelection would be catastrophic.
“By the time this book is published, hundreds of thousands of American lives will have been sacrificed on the altar of Donald’s hubris and willful ignorance. If he is afforded a second term, it would be the end of American Democracy,” she writes in “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.”
Mary Trump is the daughter of Trump’s older brother, Fred Jr., who died after a struggle with alcoholism in 1981 at 42. The book is the second insider account in as many months to paint a deeply unflattering portrait of the president following the release of former national security adviser John Bolton’s bestseller last month.
In her book, Mary Trump, who is estranged from her uncle, makes several revelations, including alleging that the president paid a friend to take the SATs — a standardized test widely used for college admissions — in his place. She writes that his sister, Maryanne Trump, did his homework for him but couldn’t take his tests and he worried his grade point average, which put him far from the top of the class, would “scuttle his efforts to get accepted” into the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which he transferred to after two years at Fordham University in the Bronx.
“To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him,” she writes, adding that, “Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well.” White House spokesperson Sarah Matthews called the allegation “completely false.”
Mary Trump also writes, in awe, of Trump’s ability to gain the support of prominent Christian leaders and White Evangelicals, saying, “The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there. It’s mind boggling. He has no principles. None!”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany slammed the book Tuesday, saying “It’s ridiculous, absurd accusations that have absolutely no bearing in truth.”
Mary Trump traces much of her pain to the death of her father when she was 16, after a years-long struggle with alcoholism. Trump, who rarely admits mistakes, told The Washington Post last year that he regretted the pressure he and his father had put on Fred Jr. to join the family business when he wanted to be a pilot instead.
“It was just not his thing. . . . I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it. That would be the biggest mistake. . . . There was sort of a double pressure put on him,” Trump told the paper.
Mary Trump speaks at length about her grandfather Fred’s penchant, as she describes it, to sow division in the family.
“The atmosphere of division my grandfather created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everybody else. It’s wearing the country down, just as it did my father, changing us even as it leaves Donald unaltered,” she writes. “It’s weakening our ability to be kind or believe in forgiveness, concepts that have never had any meaning for him.”
As a child, she remembers Donald Trump hiding favorite toys from his younger brother and taking juvenile stunts — like Fred Jr. dumping a bowl of mashed potatoes on his then-seven-year-old head — so seriously that he harbored resentments even when his oldest sister, Maryanne, brought it up in her toast at his White House birthday dinner in 2017.
And she said Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail was nothing new, given his dinnertime conversation.
“I was reminded of every family meal I’d ever attended during which Donald had talked about all of the women he considered ugly fat slobs or the men, usually more accomplished or powerful, he called losers,” she wrote. “That kind of casual dehumanization of people was commonplace at the Trump dinner table.”
The book is, at its heart, a lengthy psychoanalysis of the Trump family by a woman trained in the field, who sees the traits of her uncle that critics despise as a natural progression of behaviors developed at the knees of a demanding father who encouraged in his son a “reckless hyperbole and unearned confidence that hid Donald’s pathological weaknesses and insecurities.”
For Donald Trump, she writes, “lying was defensive — not simply a way to circumvent his father’s disapproval or to avoid punishment, as it was for the others, but a way to survive.”
Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Monday that they would be publishing the book two weeks early, on July 14, citing “extraordinary interest.” The revised date came after a New York appellate court cleared the way for the book’s publication following a legal challenge.
Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, had sued Mary Trump to block the book, arguing in legal papers that Mary Trump was subject to a 20-year-old agreement between family members that no one would publish accounts involving the core family members without their approval.
A judge last week left in place a restraint that blocked Mary Trump and any agent of hers from distributing the book, but the court made clear it was not considering Simon & Schuster to be covered by the ruling.
In the book, Mary Trump writes that she didn’t take her uncle’s run for the presidency seriously in 2016 — an opinion apparently shared by Trump’s oldest sister, a retired federal appeals court judge.
“‘He’s a clown,’ my aunt Maryanne said during one of our regular lunches at the time. ‘This will never happen,'” she recalls her saying.
She said she declined an invitation to attend her uncle’s election-night party in New York City four years ago, convinced she “wouldn’t be able to contain my euphoria when Clinton’s victory was announced.”
Instead, she found herself wandering around her house a few hours after Trump’s victory was announced, fearful voters “had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family.”
Mary Trump wrote that she considered speaking out against her uncle at various times, including the summer of 2016, but was reluctant to do so for fear of being “painted as a disgruntled, disinherited niece looking to cash in or settle a score.” The events of the last three years, however, “have forced my hand.”
“I can no longer remain silent,” she writes.
A trifecta of challenges — the coronavirus pandemic, the possibility of an economic depression and deepening social divides, she writes — have brought out “worst effects” of Donald Trump’s pathologies, which were less evident when the country had a stable economy and the lack of serious crises.
Those factors, along with “Donald’s penchant for division, and uncertainty about our country’s future have created a perfect storm of catastrophes that no one is less equipped than my uncle to manage,” she writes.
Colvin reported from Washington.