The Current

'Unstable and easily manipulated:' U.S. president's upbringing shaped his leadership, says niece Mary Trump

The niece of U.S. President Donald Trump describes her uncle as being “incompetent and in a position he is incapable of holding” and that inability to perform his job properly is endangering the country’s political stability.  

Trump’s ability to ‘destroy alliances, rip-up treaties’ has made him ‘very dangerous’, she says

Mary Trump, niece of U.S. President Donald Trump, says her uncle is 'incompetent and in a position he is incapable of holding,' and that inability to perform his job properly endangers the country's political stability.  (Leah Mills/Reuters)

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The niece of U.S. President Donald Trump describes her uncle as being "incompetent and in a position he is incapable of holding," and that inability to perform his job properly is endangering the country's political stability.  

Mary Trump, author of the revealing new memoir Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, describes how a history of family dysfunction transformed Donald Trump into a reckless and dangerous person.  

She told The Current guest host Mark Kelley that, along with being "fairly unstable and easily manipulated," the president's ability to "destroy alliances, rip up treaties and be in control of an enormous nuclear arsenal" has made him a "very dangerous" leader. 

Donald Trump has lambasted both the book and his niece, saying she "was not exactly a family favourite. We didn't have a lot of respect or like for her. I would have never said that, except she writes a book that's so stupid and so vicious and it's a lie."

Mary Trump, who also holds a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, said her uncle's visceral reaction to her book demonstrates how "extremely defensive" he is to criticism.

"He didn't spend time with me when I was a kid, particularly after my dad died when I was 16. That says a lot more about him as a human being, than it says about me," she said.

Despite never really spending much time together outside of Trump's parents' house, there were rare moments of generosity shared between the family members. Mary describes one instance where Trump handed over "a couple of bills" and paid the debt of having a car towed from central New York City. 

"I explained the situation and he said, 'Don't worry about it, honeybunch.' … It was a very simple gesture; he didn't tell me I was an idiot or anything. And he just took care of it and it was really sweet," Mary said. 

Author and psychologist Mary Trump says her uncle's harsh and humiliating upbringing has shaped his leadership style. (Peter Serling/Supplied)

Father's legacy

But those moments of humility and comradeship were "few and far between," and the extent of their relationship didn't go much further than monetary favours, she said. Mary says that this detached relationship was a result of growing up in a "highly regimented" household which lacked "a lot of warmth or affection." 

Trump, for much of his childhood, lived in the shadow of his brother Fred Jr. — Mary's father — who was the focus of their father Fred Trump's attention as he was destined to take over the family empire, she said.   

"As my dad became a teenager, my grandfather realized that my dad was not going to be the killer and the tough guy that he required him to be. He treated him very harshly. My grandfather, as a sociopath, was only really interested in other people to the extent that he could make use of them."

"Donald saw that … and he learnt very early on not to be like Freddy. What that meant was: don't be kind, don't be generous, don't have interests outside of the family business, don't be sensitive. You need to be willing to cheat and steal or whatever else it takes to be a winner, because according to my grandfather, life was a zero-sum game."

Mary said her grandfather's legacy has "deeply, deeply damaged" all of his children "in one way or another."

In her book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, Trump's niece Mary Trump reveals a number of family secrets. (Simon & Schuster/Supplied)

"It's one thing if it's one of your kids, but when all five of them are [hurt], then that's something that needs to be looked at very seriously," she said.

A standout moment of Trump's childhood, and one which Mary says has stayed with him his whole life, was when his father tipped a bowl of mashed potatoes over his head at a family dinner.  

"All of his siblings just laughed at him and they didn't stop laughing at him. I think that enraged him to such a degree," she said.

"His ego is a very fragile thing and it doesn't really provide an adequate barrier between his insecurities and the real world…. And it's a dangerous thing to humiliate him." 

'End of the American experiment' 

Despite outing a number of the Trump family's secrets in this book, Mary says it is in no way an attempt to settle any scores.

Rather, she says she wants to inform American voters about her uncle so they can "make a better decision" in November's election.

She warns that if her uncle were to be elected again, it would spell the "end of the American experiment."

"If we look at what's happened in the last three and a half years, I don't think it's a hyperbolic one. I think there's plenty to back it up. And I'm not just saying it's because of Donald. In some ways, he's the least of our problems," she said.

"It's the people who enable him. It's the people who allow him to get away with his egregious behaviour so that they can get their agendas filled or get their judges on a particular court. They're willing to just watch American institutions disintegrate before our eyes."

Written by Adam Jacobson. Produced by Julie Crysler.

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