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Now America is salivating with anticipation for the bombshell book to be published on Tuesday by Trump’s own niece Mary, branding the man with his finger on the nuclear button a narcissistic sociopath with a learning disorder.
As a psychologist, Mary Trump is uniquely equipped to analyse her uncle’s troubled mind. And she has no doubt where the blame lies for making the President the strange, warped man he is today.
“Donald is really an outgrowth of this complex empire that Fred Senior built – a pretty dark, win-atall-cost environment,” says a source close to Mary, whose father was Donald’s brother, Fred Trump Junior.
As a result, The Don is “a Frankenstein’s monster”, says Mary, 56, in her memoir Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.
And leading the family in question was patriarch Fred Senior, a workaholic property developer for whom “love meant nothing”.
He had little time for his five children, Mary reveals in the book the Trump family desperately tried in court to block from publication.
“Donald’s mother became ill when he was two-and-a- half, suddenly depriving him of his main source of comfort and human contact,” Mary writes. “His father, Fred, became his only available parent.
“But Fred firmly believed that dealing with young children was not his duty, and kept to his 12 hours-a-day, six days-a-week job at Trump Management, as if his children could look after themselves.
“Fred’s self-interest skewed his priorities and his care of children reflected his own needs, not theirs. He could not empathise with Donald’s plight, so his son’s fears and longings went unsoothed.
“Love meant nothing to Fred. He expected obedience, that was all. Over time, Donald became afraid that asking for comfort or attention would provoke his father’s anger or indifference when Donald was most vulnerable.”
Donald was trapped in “total dependence” on Fred Senior, even though his father “caused him terror”, writes Mary. Neglected, Donald “suffered deprivations that would scar him for life”. She added: “Donald Trump may have a long undiagnosed learning disability that for decades has interfered with his ability to process information,” she adds.
Though the President has bragged of being a “stable genius”, Mary claims that he cheated to get into the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, having a stand-in take the SAT exam – the US equivalent of A-levels – on his behalf.
White House officials are said to be concerned that Trump is “no more than semi-literate” and suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or even dementia, claimed Michael Wolff in his 2018 bestselling exposé of the Trump presidency, Fire & Fury.
And learning disability specialists have speculated that Trump may have dyslexia or a reading disability.
But to understand his failings, says Mary, you need to know about his childhood.
Fred’s children – Maryanne, Fred Jr, Elizabeth, Donald and Robert – were forbidden from swearing or snacking between meals. The girls were not allowed to wear lipstick. And as teens they were kept to strict curfews.
Each night Fred would return home from work to be given a report on his children’s behaviour by Scots-born wife Mary, and meted out discipline for any infractions.
Though he became a wealthy construction magnate, dubbed the Henry Ford of home building – he built 27,000 homes and apartments in New York City – he made his sons take newspaper delivery rounds. On particularly cold mornings he would drive them on their route in his limousine.
According to Mary, Fred was a “high-functioning sociopath” displaying a lack of empathy or interest in others, and a facility for lying, traits that Donald has been accused of inheriting.
The more that his children needed their father’s love, “the more Fred Senior rebuffed them.”
Young Donald came to equate “needing” with humiliation and despair, Mary writes. He learned his rapacious world view at his father’s side. In the Trump family “taking responsibility for your failures is discouraged,” while embracing cheating was “a way of life”.
Fred believed that “financial worth is the same as self-worth” and that enriching others would make him worth less, says Mary, an attitude he tried to pass on to his children. But while his high expectations drove Donald to ruthlessness, they crushed the spirit of his older brother Fred Jr, who was driven to alcoholism when his dream of becoming a pilot was scorned by their father.
After Fred Junior died of a heart attack at the age of 42 in 1981, Fred Senior refused to honour his son’s final wish: for his ashes to be scattered across the ocean at Montauk, on New York’s Long Island. Instead, Fred insisted that the ashes be buried. Mary writes: “He associated Montauk with my father’s frivolous hobbies, such as boating and fishing, activities that distracted him from the serious business of real estate.”
But he was not so exacting when it came to the truth. Fred Senior was born in New York in 1905, just months after his parents immigrated from Germany, yet for 70 years he claimed to be Swedish. Even Donald Trump’s bestselling book The Art of The Deal repeats the lie.
A builder’s son, Fred Sr remained in the family business, yet as his construction empire grew he remained intensely frugal. He scoured his building sites collecting spare nails, scrap material and sawdust, which he recycled or sold.
As his fortune grew, he remained in the same middle-class home in Queens he purchased in 1951.
But Donald learned some decidedly unsavoury lessons from his father, who often pushed the boundaries of the law.
Fred was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927, and in 1973 was investigated by the Justice Department for refusing to rent homes to black families.
Trump Management reached a settlement with prosecutors in 1975.
Fred was accused of profiteering on US government housing contracts in 1954, along with his partner William Tomasello, who was linked to the Mafia.
every Donald’s father was investigated again for profiteering in 1966, accused by New York’s State Investigation Commission of wildly over-estimating costs on a government building programme, and pocketing the exorbitant profit.
Fred Senior was also arrested in 1976 for housing code violations including broken windows, dilapidated rain gutters and missing fire extinguishers.
Yet Donald calls his father: “My hero, role model, and best friend.”
The President keeps a framed photo of his father on a shelf beside his desk in the Oval Office.
Fred could be supportive of his son – financially. Donald claimed to get his start in property development with a $1million loan from his father, though investigations have found the loan was closer to $14million.
The President may also have picked up some personal grooming tips from his father. As he aged, Fred Senior dyed his hair an unnatural magenta red and combed the thinning strands over his balding skull in a distinctive style that may have inspired Donald.
When Fred Senior slipped into dementia shortly before his death in 1999, Donald unsuccessfully tried to add a codicil to his father’s will, pushing his siblings aside to gain control of their father’s $100million estate, claims Mary.
“Donald today is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesise information,” she writes.
“Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down that he is nothing of what he claims to be. He knows he has never been loved.”
And for that, as in all things, Trump can thank his father.
Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man, by Mary Trump (Simon & Schuster, £20) is out on Tuesday. For free UK delivery, ring the Express Bookshop on 01872 562310 or order via www.expressbookshop.co.uk
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