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'I don't think it exists anymore': Mary Trump on how toxic family dynamics 'beat' the kindness out of Donald

The US president’s niece tells Miriam O’Callaghan how her grandfather’s cruel nature left all five of his children “deeply damaged”.
Jul 26th 2020, 6:00 AM 44,528 20

donald-trump-through-the-years Donald Trump and his father Fred Trump Snr Source: Sonia Moskowitz

DONALD TRUMP’S NIECE says she doesn’t believe that the US president was born a sociopath but that her grandfather probably was. 

Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, is the daughter of Donald’s late older brother Fred Trump Jr. Her new book seeks to trace how family members were affected by the president’s father, and how Donald may have developed some of his traits.

The unflattering portrayal of Trump family dynamics in Too Much and Never Enough – branded “a book of falsehoods” by the White House – was released last week following a lengthy legal battle. 

Speaking in an interview airing later today on RTE Radio 1‘s Sundays with Miriam, Mary recounts how it was her “sociopath” grandfather’s cruel nature that left all five of his children “deeply damaged”. 

Her father Fred Jr died in 1981 from complications related to alcoholism. She says his relationship with the patriarch of the Trump family, Fred Snr, was further complicated by the fact that he was not “a killer” or “a tough guy”.  

Mary recalls that the successful real estate tycoon’s philosophy was that life and family were a zero-sum game, “and only one person could win, and if you weren’t winning, you were losing”. 

Heir apparent to my grandfather’s empire. Certainly by the time my dad was a teenager my grandfather realised that he wasn’t the person he wanted his oldest son and namesake to be. You know he wanted a killer, he wanted a tough guy, he wanted someone who would do anything to win. … if you weren’t winning you were losing.
My father did not fit that bill. He was a kind, sensitive boy and man, he loved being outside, he had interests outside of the family business, he had a group of friends who adored him … he was punished mightily for that.

donald-trump-through-the-years Fred Snr and Mary Anne Trump. Source: Sonia Moskowitz/PA

Mary says that Donald witnessed the punishment and humiliation handed down from Fred Snr and learned from a very young age that in order to succeed in the family and in life he could be nothing like his older brother.

She alleges that Fred Snr pitted all his children against each other so they could never really be allies to each other growing up. When Fred Jr was dying alone in the hospital, Donald and his sister went to the movies she says. 

“My dad was a very sensitive person, he took things to heart. His father’s criticism really affected him and my grandfather saw that as weakness. You know, he thought that acknowledging a mistake was weakness, apologising was a weakness. I think we can see from the way Donald behaves that he learned that lesson too.”

ny-mary-trumps-new-book-goes-on-sale Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Donald’s younger brother Robert Trump tried to block publication of Mary’s book, arguing that she was violating a non-disclosure agreement signed in 2001 after the settlement of her grandfather’s estate. 

However, a New York appeals judge ruled that publishers Simon & Schuster were allowed to release the memoir as it was “not a party to the agreement”. 

Following the book’s release, the US president tweeted that Mary was “a mess” and “a seldom seen niece who knows little about me”. 

In response to the critics who have accused Mary of cashing in on the family name, she tells Miriam that was never the goal. 

“If I had just been looking to score some bit of revenge or score a payday, I would have done this 10 years ago, when he was a very public figure. And it would have been safer.  

You know, people outside of America may not be as aware of this, but whistleblowers have fared very poorly in this administration. They’ve lost their jobs, their reputations have been stained, their reputations have suffered. Some people have been forced to resign early. And you know, not to mention death threats.

“Writing this book was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. It was not at all designed to hurt. I’m not saying that it won’t. And I think that’s unfortunate, but I was committed to tell the truth,” she says. 

“I believe that this is a foundational story about, most importantly, how Donald became who he is. And my primary reason for writing it was to help people understand what it means to have him in the position he’s in and to give them as much information going forward. So they can make much more informed decisions this November than they could possibly have made in November 2016.”

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According to the clinical psychologist, Donald meets the nine criteria outlined in the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders to be classified as a narcissist. 

“Intense self-regard, delusions about one’s capabilities, he ticks off all nine of the symptoms that are laid out in the diagnostics and statistical manual … his desperate need to be the centre of attention. 

I wasn’t interested in diagnosing him partially because I think his diagnosis is irrelevant – we have to deal with his behaviour. We have to deal with the fact he seems incapable of changing or improving in any way. So I was more interested in giving people an idea of the psychological landscape just pointing to potential symptoms that could help people explain his behaviours

“He won’t seek treatment and no one around him will suggest he do.”

trump A photo of President Donald Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, sits on a table behind Trump in the Oval Office Source: Patrick Semansky/PA

“I don’t think that Donald was a born sociopath in the way I believe my grandfather probably was,” she says acknowledging that he did have a spark of kindness. 

“You know, there were a couple of instances of kindness that I witnessed, you know, nothing out of the ordinary truly and the only reason they stand out is because they were so few and far between. 

“But yeah, I do think that impulse was there, but it eventually got beaten out of him. And honestly, I don’t think it exists anymore.”

You can hear Mary Trump’s full interview on Sundays with Miriam RTE Radio 1 at 10am today. 

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Adam Daly

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