Mary Trump tell-all paints president as a 'narcissist' who is 'lost to his own delusional spin'

Key Points
  • CNBC obtained a copy of the forthcoming tell-all family memoir about President Donald Trump written by his niece, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man."
  • Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, writes that her uncle is a textbook narcissist, and that his late father, the real estate developer Fred Trump Sr., was a sociopath.
  • The coronavirus pandemic, writes Mary Trump, has revealed President Trump to be a "petty, pathetic little man — ignorant, incapable, out of his depth, and lost to his own delusional spin."
Donald Trump and his father, Fred Trump, at the opening of Wollman Rink in Manhattan's Central Park in 1987.
Dennis Caruso | New York Daily News | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is a textbook narcissist and his late father, the real estate developer Fred Trump Sr., was a sociopath, writes the president's niece, Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist and the author of the forthcoming "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man."

The highly anticipated family tell-all is due to be released next Tuesday. CNBC has obtained an advance copy of the manuscript.

At the root of President Trump's narcissism, writes his estranged niece, is a childhood that was scarred by the emotional abuse Trump suffered at the hands of his father and by his mother's absence due to a lengthy illness. 

Lying, cheating and hiding one's true feelings were all rewarded in the Trump household, Mary Trump writes, and as a result of this, these behaviors are all fundamental parts of President Trump's personality. 

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

To this day, Trump exaggerates his own accomplishments regularly, even under the harsh glare of the presidential spotlight, where his claims are swiftly disproved. Trump's lies are also well documented. According to The Washington Post's fact checkers, between his inauguration in January 2017 and April of this year, Trump has made a staggering total of 18,000 false statements.

As for Trump's cheating, Mary Trump writes that it dates all the way back to his teen years, when she alleges that her uncle paid someone to take the college entrance exam, the SAT, in his place. 

Mary L. Trump
Source: Peter Serling, copyright 2020

On Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews denied that Trump had paid someone to take the SATs for him, calling the claim, "completely false." 

Matthews also disputed Mary Trump's characterization of the president's relationship with his father. "The President describes the relationship he had with his father as warm and said his father was very good to him," said Matthews. "He said his father was loving and not at all hard on him as a child."

In June, President Trump's brother Robert Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to bar the book's publication, on the grounds that it violated a confidentiality agreement that Mary Trump had signed decades ago.

The suit is still pending, but the book's publisher, Simon and Schuster, told a judge last week that thousands of copies of the book had already been shipped out, making it all but impossible to prevent the book's contents from being made public.

A psychological portrait

The book is one part tragic family memoir and another part clinical analysis of President Trump's personality.

"By limiting Donald's access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable, Fred [Trump Sr.] perverted his son's perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it," writes the president's niece.

Elsewhere she writes, "Nothing is ever enough. This is far beyond garden-variety narcissism; 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."

"The fact is, Donald's pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuro-physical tests, that he'll never sit for," she writes at another point in the book. 

Mary Trump also describes her uncle as having been sheltered from the real world and from the consequences of his own behavior. "Donald has been institutionalized for most of his adult life, so there is no way to know how he would thrive, or even survive, on his own in the real world."

Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump
Source: Simon and Schuster

Trump, 74, has also been enabled throughout his life, she writes, by people who have permitted him to violate rules and mores with impunity.

Trump's presidency and the multiple crises currently engulfing the nation, Mary Trump writes, are the "end result of Donald's having continually been given a pass and rewarded not just for his failures but for his transgressions — against tradition, against decency, against the law, and against fellow human beings." 

Trump's coronavirus response

Mary Trump levels especially sharp criticism at her uncle's handling of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has so far infected almost 3 million Americans and claimed the lives of nearly 130,000. 

According to his niece, Trump was unable to acknowledge the threat of the coronavirus pandemic early this year because "in Donald's mind, even acknowledging an inevitable threat would indicate weakness."

She adds: "Taking responsibility would open him up to blame. Being a hero — being good — is impossible for him."

The past six months of the pandemic, says Mary Trump, have revealed the president to be a "petty, pathetic little man — ignorant, incapable, out of his depth, and lost in his own delusional spin."

"He'll withhold ventilators or steal supplies from states that have not groveled sufficiently," she writes, adding: "What Donald thinks is justified retaliation is, in this context, mass murder."

Trump repeatedly complained this spring about governors he felt had given him insufficient credit for helping their states acquire lifesaving coronavirus supplies. 


In March, Trump said he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to reach out to governors who were not "appreciative" enough of what the Trump administration had done for their states. "If they don't treat you right, I don't call," Trump said.

"I say, 'Mike, don't call the governor of Washington. You're wasting your time with him. Don't call the woman in Michigan. It doesn't make any difference what happens,'" Trump said, referring to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

For Mary Trump, the dynamic she observed between Trump and the governors during the pandemic was a familiar one. 

Her father, Fred Trump Jr., "couldn't retaliate when his little brother mocked his passion for flying because of his filial responsibility and his decency, just as governors in blue states, desperate to get adequate help for their citizens during the COVID-19 crisis, are constrained from calling out Donald's incompetence for fear he would withhold ventilators and other supplies needed in order to save lives," she writes. "Donald learned a long time ago how to pick his targets."

"Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," is scheduled for release on July 14, two weeks earlier than the July 28 date the publisher had originally announced. 

— CNBC's Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.