Last week, the widow of a friend of the president's who went to college with him challenged the accusation too — though Mary Trump said she was referring to someone else with the same name

By Adam Carlson
July 14, 2020 11:02 AM
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Of the many, many terrible things Mary Trump writes about her uncle Donald Trump in a new memoir, the White House is pushing back on a few specific claims.

Among them: that the president cheated on his SATs in order to get into an Ivy League school.

"Completely false," a White House spokeswoman said in a statement to various news outlets last week as Mary's Too Much and Never Enough began making the rounds in the press.

The book was published on Tuesday after a legal fight because the president's brother Robert Trump tried to stop it.

In an early section of her memoir — which mostly focuses on the relationship between her dad, Fred Trump Jr., and the president and their father, Fred Trump Sr. — Mary, 55, briefly recounts how the president came to attend the University of Pennsylvania after starting as an undergraduate at Fordham University.

Mary writes that he "worried that his grade point average, which put him far from the top of his class, would scuttle his efforts to get accepted."

"To hedge his bets," she claims, "he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him."

"That was much easier to pull off in the days before photo IDs and computerized records," Mary writes. "Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well."

Mary also notes that ("not leaving anything to chance") the president, now 74, asked his older brother to talk to a friend who worked in the admissions office. She offers no specific sourcing for this disputed anecdote.

In the beginning of her book, Mary writes that much of it "comes from my own memory" and, for other scenes, she "relied on conversations and interviews ... with members of my family, family friends, neighbors, and associates." She also said she used previous news reporting and other documents, such as court and private papers.

Mary's descriptions of immense dysfunction between her father, uncle and grandfather have been dismissed by the White House.

Too Much and Never Enough lengthily details this behavior — a sociopathic focus on success and on wealth above all, she writes — which she equates with toxic psychological abuse.

President Donald Trump
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty
Front cover of Mary Trump's soon-to-be-released tell-all, "Too Much and Never Enough"
Simon & Schuster

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said last week the memoir was "a book of falsehoods." Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway told reporters: "As for books generally, obviously they're not fact-checked. Nobody's under oath."

In a separate statement, an administration spokeswoman said: "Mary Trump and her book’s publisher may claim to be acting in the public interest, but this book is clearly in the author’s own financial interest."

"President Trump has been in office for over three years working on behalf of the American people — why speak out now?” the spokeswoman said, continuing: “The President describes the relationship he had with his father as warm and said his father was very good to him. He said his father was loving and not at all hard on him as a child."

"Also," the spokeswoman said, "the absurd SAT allegation is completely false."

Mary's allegation about cheating pales compared to other behavior she describes, but it seems to have struck a nerve with the Trump administration.

The president has repeatedly touted his time as a student at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and, since taking office, has responded to criticisms by boasting of his "stable genius."

Last week the president — who has questioned rival Joe Biden's mental strength — said he'd recently "aced" a cognitive test but did not provide further evidence, and White House doctors have not mentioned it.

Mary Trump
Mary L Trump/Twitter

Elsewhere last week, the widow of a Joe Shapiro who knew and attended college with the president challenged Mary's claims as well, according to ABC News.

"He always did the right thing, and that's why this hurts," Pam Shriver said, according to the network.

In a video statement on Twitter on Wednesday, she said her husband, who died in 1999, was "a man of great integrity, honesty; he was a hard worker. He was literally the smartest person I ever met."

Simon & Schuster, Mary's publisher, has said her book is "a work of great significance, with very real implications for our national discourse."

In an interview with ABC News that aired on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mary said she was referring to another Joe Shapiro — not Shriver's late husband.

"I am absolutely confident that it's true," she said, citing "a source very close to Donald."

""I'm happy to finally to be able to speak about it. I also know that it was not the Joe Shapiro people have been focusing on, who just happened to be at UPenn when Donald was and who happened to be born in New York along, I'm guessing, with many, many, many other Joe Shapiros at around that time," she continued. "But I stand by it, absolutely."

"And I feel terrible that she's [Shriver has] been subjected to this, honestly," Mary said. "I wish I could have said something sooner. But obviously, I couldn't. I'm happy to now."