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Trump's Niece Pens Tell-All. Offers Scathing Portrait Of The President


President Trump's entire worldview was shaped by his desire to avoid his father's disapproval. And he was rewarded no matter how badly he failed. He also paid someone else to take the SAT in his name. These are just some of the claims made by President Trump's niece, Mary Trump, in her new book. She is the daughter of the president's late brother, Fred Trump Jr. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith has gotten her hands on this book and is with us this morning. Hi, Tam


GREENE: So take us through just some of the allegations that you've seen in reading this.

KEITH: Yeah. So NPR obtained this book ahead of its publication, which is set for July 14. And it is an airing of the family's dirty laundry. It's a generally sympathetic portrait of her father, Fred Trump Jr., who is a tragic figure in the Trump family. And it is an unsparing indictment of the family's patriarch, Fred Trump. She calls Fred Trump a high-functioning sociopath. She says her grandmother was emotionally and physically absent. And she says that Fred Trump humiliated her father, who died at the age of 42 of alcohol-related illness, and also that he short-circuited Donald Trump's ability to develop and experience the entire spectrum of human emotion.

Let me read a bit. She writes, (reading) Donald, following the lead of my grandfather, and with the complicity, silence and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can't let him destroy my country. The president has told The Washington Post in the past that he regretted having put too much pressure on Fred Trump Jr., his brother, to join the family business. Trump briefly pursued his dream of being a commercial pilot. And the author quotes President Trump as saying to him, Freddy, dad's "right about you. You're nothing but a glorified bus driver."

GREENE: Wow. Well, there's a lot in here, clearly. And there's going to be a lot of discussion...

KEITH: (Laughter) Yes.

GREENE: ...I'm sure, about everything in this book, including, you know, how credible all this is. So can you talk about Mary Trump and her credibility here?

KEITH: Yeah. So she has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. And at times, she applies that to her family. But largely, it's a book of childhood memories and family lore. It's a sad story. And we've always known that the story of Fred Trump Jr. was a tragedy. This is his daughter telling it. She was 16 when he died. You know, there's a lot in here, including that SAT story. She would have been in diapers when that happened. And there are a lot of scenes from the holidays, when she spent time around the family, including some stuff about Ivana Trump, President Trump's first wife, re-gifting some very random things.

You know, she also, though, tries to tie family experiences to what's happening now, drawing a line from relatives who let Trump get away with things to chiefs of staff who don't stand up to him now or members of Congress who defer to him. There is also, underlying this in a big part of the book, is this fight over inheritance. The family took care of her and her brother after her father died. But after her grandfather died, there was a big fight. Ultimately, there was a settlement. And she signed an NDA. And that's part of the fight over the book now.

GREENE: Well, Tam, you mentioned the NDA, a nondisclosure agreement that, you know, is supposed to prevent people from talking about this. The book's publisher, Simon & Schuster, moved up the publication date following a legal challenge to stop this from being published. So I mean, what is the legal status here for this book?

KEITH: Yeah. So President Trump's younger brother filed a petition to stop the publication. There was a decision that Simon & Schuster, the publisher, was not a party to the NDA. And so publication was allowed to move forward. But Mary Trump isn't allowed to talk, which is why you're hearing from me.

GREENE: (Laughter). White House response so far?

KEITH: Yeah. Sarah Matthews, a White House spokeswoman, said in a statement that she questions the author's motives. She says President Trump had a great relationship with his father. And she describes the SAT allegations as absurd and completely false.

GREENE: All right. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Tam, thanks so much.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.