President Donald Trump’s niece offers a scathing portrayal of her uncle in a new book, blaming a toxic family for raising a narcissistic, damaged man who poses an immediate danger to the public, according to a copy obtained by the Associated Press.
Mary L Trump, a psychologist, writes that Mr Trump’s re-election would be catastrophic and that “lying, playing to the lowest common denominator, cheating, and sowing division are all he knows”.
Ms Trump is the daughter of Mr Trump’s elder brother, Fred Jr, who died after a struggle with alcoholism in 1981 at the age of 42.
The book is the second insider account in two months to paint a deeply unflattering portrait of the president, following the release of former national security adviser John Bolton’s bestseller.
In her book, Ms Trump, who is estranged from her uncle, makes several revelations, including alleging that the president paid a friend to take the SATs — a standardised test widely used for college admissions – in his place.
She writes that his sister, Maryanne Trump, did his homework for him but could not take his tests and he worried that his grade average, which put him far from the top of the class, would “scuttle his efforts to get accepted” into the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he transferred after two years at Fordham University in the Bronx.
“To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him,” she writes, adding: “Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews called the allegation “completely false”.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany condemned the book, saying, “It’s ridiculous, absurd accusations that have absolutely no bearing in truth.”
Ms Trump traces much of her pain to the death of her father when she was 16.
The president, who rarely admits mistakes, told The Washington Post last year that he regretted the pressure he and his father had put on Fred Jr to join the family business when his brother wanted to be a pilot instead.
“It was just not his thing … I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it. That would be the biggest mistake … There was sort of a double pressure put on him,” Mr Trump told the paper.
Yet as her father lay dying alone, Ms Trump claims, “Donald went to the movies”.
Ms Trump paints her uncle, who often called her “Honeybunch”, as a self-centred narcissist who demanded constant adulation – even from his family – and had little regard for family members’ feelings.
Mr Trump’s crude rhetoric on the campaign trail, she says, was nothing new, reminding her “of every family meal I’d ever attended during which Donald had talked about all of the women he considered ugly fat slobs or the men, usually more accomplished or powerful, he called losers”.
The book is, at its heart, a lengthy psychoanalysis of the Trump family by a woman trained in the field, who sees the traits of her uncle that critics despise as a natural progression of behaviours developed at the knees of a demanding father.
For Donald Trump, she writes, “lying was defensive – not simply a way to circumvent his father’s disapproval or to avoid punishment … but a way to survive”.
Publisher Simon & Schuster announced on Monday that it would be publishing the book two weeks early, on July 14, after a New York appellate court cleared the way for its release following a legal challenge.
Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, had sued Mary Trump, arguing in legal papers that she was subject to a 20-year-old agreement between family members that no-one would publish accounts involving core family members without their approval.
A judge last week left in place a restraint which blocked Ms Trump and any agent of hers from distributing the book, but the court made clear it was not considering Simon & Schuster to be covered by the ruling.
“’He’s a clown,’ my aunt Maryanne said during one of our regular lunches at the time. ‘This will never happen’,” she recalls her saying.
She says she declined an invitation to attend her uncle’s election-night party in New York City four years ago, convinced she “wouldn’t be able to contain my euphoria when (Hillary) Clinton’s victory was announced”.
Instead, she found herself wandering around her house a few hours after Mr Trump’s victory was announced, fearful that voters “had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family”.
Ms Trump writes that she considered speaking out against her uncle at various times, including the summer of 2016, but was reluctant to do so for fear of being “painted as a disgruntled, disinherited niece looking to cash in or settle a score”.
After the events of the last three years, she writes: “I can no longer remain silent.”