A tell-all book by President Donald Trump’s niece describes a family riven by a series of traumas, exacerbated by a daunting patriarch who “destroyed” Donald Trump by short-circuiting his “ability to develop and experience the entire spectrum of human emotion,” according to a copy of the forthcoming memoir obtained by The Washington Post.
President Trump’s view of the world was shaped by his desire during childhood to avoid his father’s disapproval, according to the niece, Mary Trump, whose book is by turns a family history and a psychological analysis of her uncle.
Mary’s father, Fred Jr. — the president’s older brother — died of an alcohol-related illness when she was 16 years old in 1981. President Trump told The Washington Post last year that he and his father both pushed Fred Jr. to try to go into the family business, which Trump said he now regrets.
Donald escaped his father’s scorn and ridicule, Mary Trump wrote, because “his personality served his father’s purpose. That’s what sociopaths do: They co-opt others and use them toward their own ends — ruthlessly and efficiently, with no tolerance for dissent or resistance.”
The president, Mary Trump wrote, is a product of his domineering father and was acutely aware of avoiding the scorn that he heaped on his older brother, called Freddy, Trump writes.
“By limiting Donald’s access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it.”
Mary Trump wrote that her grandfather’s children routinely lied to him but for different reasons. For her father, “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.”
For her uncle Donald, however, “lying was primarily a mode of self-aggrandizement meant to convince other people he was better than he actually was,” Trump writes.
Mary wrote that her father had a “natural sense of humor, sense of adventure, and sensitivity,” which he worked hard to hide from the family patriarch.
“Softness was unthinkable in his namesake,” she writes.
“Fred [Sr.] hated it when his oldest son screwed up or failed to intuit what was required of him, but he hated it even more when, after being taken to task, Freddy [Fred Jr.] apologized. ‘Sorry, Dad,'” Mary wrote of the way her grandfather treated her father, known as Freddy. Fred Sr. “would mock him. Fred wanted his oldest son to be a ‘killer.'”
Donald, seven-and-a-half years younger than his brother, “had plenty of time to learn from watching Fred humiliate” his eldest son, Mary Trump wrote.
“The lesson he learned, at its simplest, was that it was wrong to be like Freddy: Fred didn’t respect his oldest son, so neither would Donald.”
The book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” became an instant bestseller based on advance orders, underscoring the intense interest among the public about the forces that shaped the man who became president.
Mary Trump, 55, who has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, shares a history of family tragedy and division with President Trump. Friends of her father told The Washington Post last year that they questioned whether Donald and other members of the family bore some responsibility for Fred Jr.’s decline.
President Trump, who rarely admits mistakes, told The Post in an interview last year that he regrets the way he way he and his father pressured his brother to go into the family business instead of encouraging him to continue with the dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot.
“I do regret having put pressure on him,” Trump said. Running the family business “was just something he was never going to want” to do. “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” by his brother and his father.
After her father died, the Trump family agreed to help support Mary and her brother Fred III.
But when Mary’s grandfather Fred Sr. died in 1999, she and her brother did not get the inheritance they expected, a sum that might have equaled the amount that would have gone to their father, if he had lived. Mary and Fred contested Fred Sr.’s will, contending that one or more people connected to the Trump family coerced him to change it and give them less money.
Fred and Mary eventually reached a settlement with Donald and his siblings, receiving an undisclosed amount and signing a confidentiality agreement. President Trump’s younger brother, Robert, filed a petition in New York Supreme Court seeking to stop publication on grounds that she had agreed not to publish an account of the family. But the court’s appellate division ruled last week that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, was not a party to that agreement and lifted a temporary restraining order against it.
As Donald Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, Mary Trump does not appear to have said anything publicly about him. But when it became clear that her uncle had won the presidency, she took to Twitter. “Worst night of my life,” she wrote at least 12 times in tweets that have been deleted recently. She wrote that “We should be judged harshly … I grieve for our country.”
The publisher said it had already shipped thousands of copies, and it moved the publication to July 14, two weeks ahead of the original schedule. Mary Trump has sought to lift the temporary restraining order against her, and a decision on that could come within days.