“Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can’t let him destroy my country,” Mary Trump wrote in the book, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.
Mary Trump writes that some of the book is based on her own memory, and in parts she reconstructed some dialogue based on what she was told by some members of the family and others, as well as legal documents, bank statements, tax returns and other documents.
The White House declined to comment on the book.
Mary Trump’s book is the second tell-all in as many months to present a withering portrait of the President — and like former national security adviser John Bolton — her book sparked an unsuccessful legal campaign to stop its publication.
The book comes at a challenging time in Trump’s presidency as he struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and presides over a country reckoning with systemic racism. He also trails his 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden in recent polling.
Mary Trump, a licensed clinical psychologist, offers both her take on Trump’s actions in the White House as well as episodes throughout Trump’s business career, Trump’s handling of her father’s struggle with alcoholism and infighting within the family. She writes that Trump’s father, Fred Trump, “dismantled his oldest son,” Trump’s brother, Freddy Trump.
“The only reason Donald escaped the same fate is that 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,” Mary Trump writes.
Mary Trump writes that Trump even paid someone to take the SAT tests for him to help him get into the University of Pennsylvania. Trump was “worried that his grade point average, which put him far from the top of his class, would scuttle his efforts to get accepted.”
She writes that he enlisted “a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him,” adding the test-taker was compensated for the effort.
“Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well,” Mary Trump writes.
Trump initially attended Fordham University in New York as an undergraduate before transferring to Penn’s Wharton School.
‘It might be useful to have a close relative on the bench’
Mary Trump says that she didn’t take her uncle’s run for president seriously at first, and didn’t think Donald Trump did either.
” ‘He’s a clown,’ my aunt Maryanne said during one of our regular lunches at the time. ‘This will never happen,’ ” Mary Trump wrote.
During the campaign, Mary Trump says her aunt, former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, accused Donald Trump of using Freddy Trump’s death “for political purposes” by citing it while addressing the opioids crisis.
Mary Trump also claims that Donald Trump helped his sister to obtain an open seat in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, through his friend and lawyer, Roy Cohn.
“Maryanne thought it would be a great fit, and Donald thought it might be useful to have a close relative on the bench in a state in which he planned to do a lot of business,” she writes. “Cohn gave Attorney General Ed Meese a call, and Maryanne was nominated in September and confirmed in October.”
CNN has reached out to Maryanne Trump Barry for comment.
‘Undermine an adversary’
Trump’s niece further describes what she says is the psychological hold that Fred Trump, the President’s father, had over his children. Fred’s eldest son, Freddy, who is Mary’s father, had a brief and tumultuous career as a pilot for TWA in the early 1960s, just before Mary was born. This came after Freddy left the Trump company, a move that angered Fred but which Freddy apparently hoped would ingratiate himself to his demanding father.
The stormy relationship she describes between Fred and Freddy Trump seem to echo accounts of how Donald, Freddy’s younger brother, expects undying loyalty from those around him and seeks control over those people’s lives and decisions.
Freddy, Mary writes, would tell friends about the “constant barrage of abuse” he was receiving from his father after getting the job at TWA.
“Donald may not have understood the origin of their father’s contempt for Freddy and his decision to become a professional pilot, but he had the bull’s unerring instinct for finding the most effective way to undermine an adversary,” Mary Trump writes.
It was during this time that Freddy’s drinking worsened, and within a few months he had quit the job at TWA, moved his family back to New York, and tried flying for smaller airlines. By the end of 1964, he had quit the business entirely and returned, hat in hand, to his father Fred for a job in the company. The way Mary describes it, Fred’s torment, with an assist from Donald, had “slowly, inexorably dismantled” Freddy.
‘Master of the universe’
Mary Trump recounts the President’s rise to prominence in New York real estate as largely the result of Fred Trump’s financial and behind-the-scenes support, which she said was necessary to compensate for Donald’s shortcomings.
She also traces what she views as an aptitude toward authoritarians to Donald Trump’s earlier days working with famed lawyer Roy Cohn in the 1980s.
At the same time, she recounts Trump’s apparent disinterest at her father’s decline into depression and alcoholism, which she characterizes as spurred partly by her grandfather’s decision to elevate Donald instead of Freddy as his right-hand man and successor.
Throughout, Mary Trump portrays the support Donald received from his father as critical to his attempts to create a brand for himself as a “master of the universe” with a preternatural ability for business.
“His comfort with portraying that image, along with his father’s favor and the material security his father’s wealth afforded him, gave him the unearned confidence to pull off what even at the beginning was a charade: selling himself not just as a rich playboy but as a brilliant, self-made businessman,” she writes. “In those early days, that expensive endeavor was being enthusiastically, if clandestinely, funded by my grandfather.”
As she tracks Donald’s rise in his father’s company, she also identifies some of the origins of his current behaviors, be it dishonesty or a lack of empathy. She cites Cohn, who had worked on Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s committee investigating alleged communist activity in the US, as a formative model.
“Fred had also primed Donald to be drawn to men such as Cohn, as he would later be drawn to authoritarians such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un or anyone else, really, with a willingness to flatter and the power to enrich him,” she writes.
Legal battle over book’s publication
After Mary Trump’s book was disclosed last month, the President’s younger brother Robert took legal action to block its publication.
The restraining order is still in place against Mary Trump, so she is unable to comment publicly.
Her spokesman, Chris Bastardi, said Monday: “The act by a sitting president to muzzle a private citizen is just the latest in a series of disturbing behaviors.”
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Michael Warren, Clare Foran, Holmes Lyband, Betsy Klein, Tara Subramaniam, Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.
This story is breaking and will be updated.