US President Donald Trump’s niece Mary has called on him to resign during a TV interview promoting her tell-all book.
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man went on sale to the public yesterday.
As the title suggests, it is not a flattering portrayal of Trump – though the author reserves her greatest scorn for the President’s father, Fred Trump.
On the eve of the book’s publication, a court in New York lifted a restraining order on Dr Mary Trump, which had prevented her from speaking about its contents publicly.
She took advantage of that new-found freedom by granting an interview to ABC News host George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.
“If you’re in the Oval Office today, what would you say to (Mr Trump)?” Stephanopoulos asked her.
“Resign,” Dr Trump replied.
Asked what message she hoped the American people would take from her book, the President’s niece was equally blunt.
“He’s utterly incapable of leading this country. And it’s dangerous to allow him to do so,” Dr Trump said.
“Based on what you see now, or what you saw then?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Based on what I’ve seen my entire adult life,” she said.
None of those answers are particularly surprising. In the book, Dr Trump describes her uncle as a “pathetic, petty little man” who is “ignorant, incapable, out of his depth and lost in his own delusional spin”.
She is clearly not a fan.
But she also portrays the President as a victim of his father’s more sinister personality.
“(Fred Trump) had no empathy. He was incredibly driven in a way that turned other people, including his children, his wife, into pawns to be used to his own ends,” Dr Trump told Stephanopoulos.
“If somebody could be of service to him, then he would use them. If they couldn’t be, he excised them. And in my father’s case, tragically, he was not of use.”
Dr Trump’s father was Freddy Trump, Fred’s eldest son, and the child who was originally expected to become the heir to his real estate empire.
Freddy fell out of favour when it became clear that his personality and ambitions did not conform to Fred’s world view. His father’s reaction was toxic.
“It wasn’t (Fred’s) inability to fix his son that infuriated him, it was the fact that Freddy simply wasn’t what he wanted him to be,” Dr Trump writes.
“Fred dismantled his oldest son by devaluing and degrading every aspect of his personality and his natural abilities until all that was left was self-recrimination and a desperate need to please a man who had no use for him.”
Freddy spent the rest of his life struggling with alcoholism, eventually dying at the age of 42 – a tragedy Dr Trump said was hard to write about, but “much harder to witness”.
She told Stephanopoulos she could remember “verbatim” the phone call she got from Fred on the night of her father’s death.
“My grandfather got on the phone. He said, ‘Your dad’s sick.’ ‘Oh, is it serious?’ ‘He’s in the hospital, but it’s not serious.’ ‘Okay, but why am I calling you at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night if it’s not serious?’ I was thinking to myself,” she said.
“I said, ‘Well, is it his heart?’ Because he’d had open-heart surgery three years earlier, at the age of 39. And he said, ‘Yes, it’s his heart.’ And I said, ‘Well then it is serious.’ ‘Yes, it’s serious, but don’t worry about it, call your mother in the morning.’
“As I found out two minutes later, when I called my mother to find out what was going on, my father had died two hours earlier. Completely alone.”
While Freddy was dying in hospital, his parents were sitting in their family home’s library, waiting for the doctors to call them.
Meanwhile, Dr Trump writes, Donald went to see a movie.
“That shocked even me when I heard about it,” she told GMA.
“You know, it was bad enough – it was probably worse, honestly, that my dad’s parents just sat in the library in the house waiting for a phone call. I will never know why they didn’t go to the hospital to be with their son, who was clearly dying.
“So maybe it isn’t surprising that Donald didn’t think he needed to be there. Maybe that would have looked bad to his father. Maybe sitting around waiting for the phone call was too burdensome. I don’t know.
“I’ve often wondered, what movie did he go to see that seemed more compelling than sitting with his dying brother? But I’ll never know.”
Stephanopoulos pointed to a striking passage from the book in which Dr Trump says her uncle did once have “a spark of kindness”.
“Yeah, I think he did,” she said.
“One of the unforgivable things my grandfather did to Donald was he severely restricted the range of human emotion that was accessible to him.
“Certain feelings were not allowed. Sadness. The impulse to be kind. The impulse to be generous. Those things that my grandfather found superfluous, unmanly.”
Dr Trump spent a significant chunk of the interview justifying her decision to write a tell-all book about her own family.
“I didn’t write it as a form of therapy or anything like that. In fact, I would have preferred not to write it. It was quite difficult. And I sometimes feel I would have been better off not knowing some of the things I now know,” she said.
“If I had wanted money or revenge, I would have done this 10 years ago, when it was infinitely safer. But neither one of those things interested me.”
She said her sole motivation was to give the American people a fuller picture of their President, along with the “dysfunctional” circumstances that shaped him.
“I feel, as I write in the book, that there are so many parallels between the circumstances in which my family operated, and in which this country is now operating,” Dr Trump said.
“I saw first-hand what focusing on the wrong things, elevating the wrong people, can do. The collateral damage that can be created by allowing somebody to live their lives without accountability.
“If I can do anything to change the narrative and to tell the truth, I need to do that. Because I don’t believe the American people had the entire truth four years ago.”
The White House has dismissed Dr Trump’s book, and the allegations within it, as “a book of falsehoods”.