"She was not exactly a family favorite," the president said Sunday of the woman who has said he "is utterly incapable of leading this country"

By Sean Neumann
July 20, 2020 01:35 PM
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Donald Trump called his niece Mary Trump's new memoir about their family "disgraceful" during a Fox News  interview Sunday, marking the first time the president has addressed the book at length since its release last week.

"She was not exactly a family favorite," he told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. "We didn’t have a lot of respect or like for her."

President Trump's harsh criticism of his niece — the daughter of his late older brother, Fred Trump Jr. — comes after Mary's own harsh words for him, both in her tell-all, Too Much and Never Enough, and in interviews to promote it.

The book's release was unsuccessfully challenged in court by the president's younger brother, Robert Trump.

"He is 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," Mary, a 55-year-old clinical psychologist, told ABC News last week of the president, 74.

In Too Much and Never Enough, Mary recounts the president's allegedly tumultuous relationship with his father, Fred Trump Sr., and how the patriarch's dysfunction — in Mary's words — shaped her uncle's personality and politics for the worse in connection with her own father's ruin and early death in 1981.

"Donald's monstrosity is the manifestation of the very weakness within him that he's been running from his entire life," she writes. "For him, there has never been any option but to be positive, to project strength, no matter how illusory, because doing anything else carries a death sentence; my father's short life is evidence of that."

"But," according to Mary, "he can never escape the fact that he is and always will be a terrified little boy."

She also writes that the president's penchant to lie and cheat comes from how her grandfather raised him, at one point claiming that President Trump cheated on his SATs in college by paying a friend to take the test for him. (The White House has denied this and called Mary's account "absurd.")

Mary Trump
Mary L Trump/Twitter

Speaking with Wallace on Sunday, the president defended his dad as a "very good" and "strong man," before dismissing his niece for publishing her damning account of growing up Trump.

“She’s a very scarred person,” he said. “She was not much of a family person.”

He added: "I would’ve never said that except she writes a book that’s so stupid and so vicious and it’s a lie."

Over the weekend, referring to several unflattering recent books about him, the president tweeted that Mary was "a seldom seen niece who knows little about me, says untruthful things about my wonderful parents (who couldn’t stand her!) and me."

Mary's memoir remains Amazon's best-selling book a week after its Tuesday release. Publisher Simon & Schuster said Thursday it had set a company record by selling more than 950,000 copies.

President Trump said Sunday Mary "ought to be ashamed of herself" for her book, echoing what brother Robert said previously. Mary's brother, Fred Trump III, has also disavowed her book.

In a statement to The New York Times in June, Robert labeled Mary's memoir a "disgrace" with sensational mischaracterizations. He sued her and Simon & Schuster to stop the book's publication, citing a confidentiality agreement the family signed in 2001 over the family's money.

“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 told the 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.”

But the court ruled against him last week.

President Donald Trump
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

In her book, Mary draws a connection to President Trump's aggressive nature to the way her grandfather raised him and his siblings — including Trump Jr., who died at 42 after years of alcoholism.

"Donald's problem was that the combative, rigid persona he developed in order to shield him from the terror of his early abandonment, along with his having been made to witness his father's abuse of Freddy, cut him off from real human connection," writes Mary. She labels Trump Sr. a "sociopath," a view she doubled down on in interviews last week.

Responding to criticism from the White House that she was seeking her own self-interest, Mary told ABC last week: “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.”

On Sunday, the president defended his father as a "great, wonderful man."

At the same time, he distanced himself from his niece, saying Mary's "not a person that I spent very much time with."

"He was strong, but he was good," Trump told Fox News. "For [Mary] to say the kind of things, a psychopath, that he was a psychopath, anybody that knew Fred Trump would call him a psychopath? And you know what, if he was I would tell you."