"It's hard for me to process just how many awful things are going on simultaneously on a daily basis and people need to know," Mary Trump said this week

By Sean Neumann and Adam Carlson
July 17, 2020 12:10 PM
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Mary Trump is not holding back.

In a series of interviews this week after a judge ruled she wasn’t bound by a long-ago confidentiality agreement, President Donald Trump’s niece expanded on the savage view of her family she detailed in a new tell-all, Too Much and Never Enough.

The book, released Tuesday over the legal objections of the Trump family, has been roundly criticized by the White House and the other Trumps, including Mary’s brother, Fred Trump III. But she isn’t deterred.

“What I have to say is too important,” she told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in a Tuesday interview — the first of several sit-downs to promote her memoir, which publisher Simon & Schuster said has generated immense interest. Through its first day of release, Too Much and Never Enough sold more than 950,000 copies, Simon & Schuster said on Thursday — “a company record.”

Mary’s memoir has been called a “book of falsehoods” by the White House and a “disgrace” by her uncle Robert Trump, who unsuccessfully sued to stop its release.

“Her attempt to sensationalize and mischaracterize our family relationship after all of these years for her own financial gain is both a travesty and injustice to the memory of my late brother, Fred, and our beloved parents,” Robert said in a statement to The New York Times last month. “I and the rest of my entire family are so proud of my wonderful brother, the president, and feel that Mary’s actions are truly a disgrace.”

Mary’s slim book is unsparing: Mixing her memories, expertise as a clinical psychologist and other accounts, the 55-year-old explores what she calls traumatic decades of dysfunction in their family — cascading down from patriarch Fred Trump Sr. to his oldest boys, Fred Trump Jr. (Mary’s dad) and the future president.

Much of her memoir focuses on this dynamic between father and sons. Trump Sr., Mary writes, was a sociopath.

“For my grandfather in particular, there was no such thing as having enough money,” she told Stephanopoulos. “And so I was thinking about what that meant, and also thinking about the psychology behind him and his children, I was very curious about the foundational issues that Donald and his siblings lived through.”

“He had no empathy,” she said of her grandfather. “He was incredibly driven in a way that turned other people, including his children, his wife, into pawns to be used to his own ends.”

From left: President Donald Trump and Mary Trump
| Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty; Mary Trump/Twitter
Credit: Simon & Schuster

"If somebody could be of service to him, he would use them," Mary told Stephanopoulos. "If they couldn't be, he would excise them."

She continued: “It’s impossible to know who Donald might've been under different circumstances and with different parents. But clearly he learned the lesson from watching his almost 8-year-old brother be punished for being kind, for being generous, for being sensitive, for having interests outside of what my grandfather thought was acceptable.”

Mary’s ABC News interview evinced a kind of sympathy for President Trump, 74, insofar as he might have become someone else once. But not now.

“I feel, as I write in the book, that there are so many parallels between the circumstances in which my family operated — and in which this country is now operating,” she told Stephanopoulos. Of the president, she said: “He's utterly incapable of leading this country. And it's dangerous to allow him to do so … based on what I’ve seen my entire adult life.”

"This country is on a precipice and we have a decision to make in the not too distant future about who we want to be and where we want to go as a country," Mary said, referring to the Nov. 3 election, when her uncle will likely face former Vice President Joe Biden.

"It's hard for me to process just how many awful things are going on simultaneously on a daily basis and people need to know," Mary said. "People need as much information as is available in order to make a decision that makes sense for our future as a country, as Americans, as citizens of the world, so to speak."

“For most of us, our mistakes are cumulative. You know?” Mary said, then adding, “That does not seem to exist in Donald's universe. It's this horrible thing happens and then this horrible thing happens so we forget about the first horrible thing. So they just replace each other.”

Mary’s issues with her family are many: She was a vocal supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 and she and her brother sued their aunts and uncles in 2000 over the family’s money — alleging wrongdoing in how Trump Sr.’s estate was divvied up. The dispute was settled in 2001.

“Projection is a powerful thing. But if I had wanted money or revenge, I would've done this 10 years ago, when it was infinitely safer,” Mary told Stephanopoulos.

"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," a White House spokeswoman said earlier this month in a statement to various news outlets.

"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."

From left: Donald Trump and Ivana Trump with his parents, Mary Trump and Fred Trump Sr., in May 1987 in New York City
| Credit: Sonia Moskowitz/Getty

In her ABC News interview this week, reacting to a statement issued by her brother via the Trump Organization disavowing her book, Mary said: “I believe that my brother is entitled to his privacy and his opinion. And I am completely supportive of whatever relationship he has with my family and whatever choices he makes. It's none of my business. This is entirely my doing. I didn't consult anybody. Nobody knew — in my family — nobody knew it was happening.”

(Mary also noted that her aunt Maryanne Trump Barry was unaware their conversations would be included in Too Much and Never Enough, where Maryanne is quoted repeatedly disparaging the president.)

Elsewhere in her interview, she remembers scenes from her childhood and earlier in her life: holiday gatherings and visiting President Trump and his then-wife Marla Maples at his Mar-a-Lago Club in the ‘90s, where she says the president spoke leeringly of her physical appearance.

Of holidays, she told ABC News: “It was strangely grim and hysterical often at the same time. You know, it was, like many families, it was very much the same every year. Thanksgiving and Christmas were indistinguishable except for the presents under the tree at Christmas. Same food, same routine.”

She went on: “And I don't even know if I would have remembered it if it hadn't been for the presents they started giving us, which became a highlight honestly. Because holidays could be difficult with this family. You know, it was sometimes could feel outside of things and not really included. But the presents sort of gave me and my brother and cousin David a way to bond. And we sort of had an unofficial competition to see who got the most ludicrous present. I'm proud to say I usually won.”

Speaking with Stephanopoulos, she also retold the story from her memoir of a moment from President Trump’s early life when his brother Trump Jr. dumped mashed potatoes on his head during a childhood argument.

Though estranged from her family after the estate fight 20 years ago, Mary returned to the fold in some ways: She attended cousin Ivanka Trump’s wedding in 2009 and visited the White House in 2017.

“Families are very complicated,” she told Stephanopoulos.

Fred Trump Jr. (left) in 1966
| Credit: Louis Liotta/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty
The five Trump siblings, including Donald Trump

Among the allegations within her book, Mary write that the president paid someone else to take his SATs in order to help him get into the University of Pennsylvania.

The White House called that specific claim “absurd” and “completely false.” Mary alleged a friend of the president’s named Joe Shapiro took the test for him. Pam Shriver, the widow of a Joe Shapiro who knew the president in college, said he would not have done such a thing — and Mary told Stephanopoulos she meant another Joe Shapiro.

"I've been told this by people in my family. I am absolutely confident that it's true,” she said. “I'm happy, finally, to be able to speak about it. I also know that it was not the Joe Shapiro people have been focusing on."

"I feel terrible that [Shriver] has been subjected to this," Mary said. "Honestly, I wish I could've said something sooner."

"In terms of documentation, no I can't prove it," Mary says about the SAT allegation. "But I can certainly say with 100-percent certainty that I was told this story by a source very close to Donald."

The president's son Eric Trump tweeted Wednesday: "Every family has one..."

In a follow up tweet, Eric wrote: "It’s usually telling when that 'one' stands alone."

Speaking with The Washington Post on Wednesday, Mary said the president was “clearly racist” and that she witnessed “a knee-jerk anti-Semitism, a knee-jerk racism” in her family while growing up.

“Growing up, it was sort of normal to hear them use the n-word or use anti-Semitic expressions,” she told the Post.

Speaking with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday, she said that she heard the president use the n-word and anti-Semitic slurs, which the White House denied.

When ABC’s chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos, mentioned in his interview that the White House labeled her allegations false, Mary replied: "Of course they would."

She told Maddow: “I’m not scared, whatever the consequences are, I am prepared to deal with them as best I can.”