Trump's failings 'threaten us all' - niece

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump's upbringing in a deeply dysfunctional family makes him a uniquely destructive and unstable leader for the country, his niece writes in a scathing new book obtained by the Los Angeles Times, perhaps the most personal in a series of deeply unflattering tell-all accounts about the president.

Mary Trump paints a disturbing portrait of her uncle, saying he paid a friend to take his SATs so he could get into college and grew up bending the truth to promote himself. The future president's father was a "high-functioning sociopath" and his mother "emotionally and physically absent."

"Honest work was never demanded of him, and no matter how badly he failed, he was rewarded in ways that are almost unfathomable. He continues to be protected from his own disasters in the White House," writes Mary Trump, the daughter of the president's eldest brother, Fred.

"But now the stakes are far higher than they've ever been before; they are literally life and death. Unlike any previous time in his life, Donald's failings cannot be hidden or ignored because they threaten us all," she adds.

More than any modern president, Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal or distort major details of his life, barring his schools from releasing transcripts, refusing to release his tax returns or detailed health information, and requiring employees and others to sign nondisclosure agreements to prevent release of unflattering material about his business and personal affairs.

The Times obtained a copy on Tuesday (local time) of "Too Much and Never Enough," which is scheduled to be published July 14.

Although the president sought to stop release of his niece's brutal personal account, a New York appeals court allowed Simon & Schuster to distribute the book. But it remains the focus of a legal battle.

The president argues that the book violates a nondisclosure agreement that Mary Trump signed decades ago as part of the settlement of a bitter family dispute. She has told the court that Trump lied about his net worth and other business affairs during the negotiations and that the agreement therefore should be declared invalid.

In addition to her private dealings and family history with Trump, Mary relies on her training as a clinical psychologist to analyze the president. She still blames him for the unraveling of her father, who died in 1981 at age 42 after struggling with alcoholism.

Fred Jr., often called Freddy, had been expected to take over the family real estate business, but he was uninterested and Fred Sr. ended up favoring Donald instead.

"Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence, and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father," Mary writes. "I can't let him destroy my country."

She writes that no family members went with Freddy when he was taken to the hospital at the end of his life. On the night he died, Donald went to the movies, she writes.

Donald is the fourth of five siblings, and their parents were "problematic," Mary writes.

Their mother, also named Mary, was "emotionally and physically absent," and Fred was worse, she argues.

"Fred seemed to have no emotional needs at all," the book says. "In fact, he was a high-functioning sociopath."

Because of this, "Donald suffered deprivations that would scar him for life," the book says, and he developed personality traits that included "displays of narcissism, bullying, grandiosity."

He also became practiced at bending the truth, a precursor to a president who has uttered falsehoods and mistruths thousands of times since taking office.

"For Donald, lying was primarily a mode of self-aggrandizement meant to convince other people he was better than he actually was," Mary writes.

Trump got his older sister, Maryanne, to complete his school homework, and he paid a friend to take the standardized College Board admission tests known as SATs for him, according to the book.

"That was much easier to pull off in the days before photo IDs and computerized records," Mary writes. "Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well."

When Fred Jr. failed to meet his father's expectations, Fred Sr. treated him harshly, an experience that Donald internalized.

"He had plenty of time to learn from watching Fred humiliate his older brother and Freddy's resulting shame," Mary writes. "The lesson he learned, at its simplest, was that it was wrong to be like Freddy:

red didn't respect his oldest son, so neither would Donald. Fred thought Freddy was weak, and therefore so did Donald."

The book is the first from a member of Trump's family, but several former senior members of Trump's inner circle have shared withering criticism of the president as he seeks reelection.

Last month, John Bolton, Trump's third national security adviser, released a scorching behind-the-scenes account of what he viewed as the president's incompetence and slavish behavior toward authoritarian leaders.

An unflattering book about first lady Melania Trump, penned by a former aide, is scheduled to be released on Sept. 1.

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