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Mary Trump's scathing book claims Trump paid someone to take his SATs

Donald Trump's niece Mary Trump levels scathing criticism at the President in her forthcoming book, accusing him of being a "sociopath" and charging that Trump's "hubris and willful ignorance" dating back to his early days threatens the country.

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Jeremy Herb, Brian Stelter
Sara Murray, CNN
CNN — Donald Trump's niece Mary Trump levels scathing criticism at the President in her forthcoming book, accusing him of being a "sociopath" and charging that Trump's "hubris and willful ignorance" dating back to his early days threatens the country.

Mary Trump's book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," accuses Donald Trump's father of creating a toxic family dynamic that best explains how the President acts today. Mary Trump, whose father, Freddy Trump, died following struggles with alcoholism, writes that she could "no longer remain silent" following the past three years of Trump's presidency.

"Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can't let him destroy my country," Mary Trump wrote in the book, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Mary Trump writes that some of the book is based on her own memory, and in parts she reconstructed some dialogue based on what she was told by some members of the family and others, as well as legal documents, bank statements, tax returns and other documents.

Mary Trump's book is the second tell-all in as many months to present a withering portrait of the President -- and like former national security adviser John Bolton, her book sparked an unsuccessful legal campaign to stop its publication. Mary Trump's book doesn't include explosive accusations about Trump's actions in the Oval Office like Bolton's, but it adds rich details to the portrait of how Trump became the self-styled real estate tycoon and media celebrity which he parlayed into the presidency, largely through the financial backing and support of his father.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said in a statement that the book "is clearly in the author's own financial self-interest."

"President Trump has been in office for over three years working on behalf of the American people -- why speak out now? The President describes the relationship he had with his father as warm and said his father was very good to him. He said his father was loving and not at all hard on him as a child," Matthews said.

The book comes at a challenging time in Trump's presidency as he struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and presides over a country reckoning with systemic racism. He also trails his 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden in recent polling.

Mary Trump, a licensed clinical psychologist, offers both her take on Trump's actions in the White House -- charging he's shown "a blatant display of sociopathic disregard for human life" over the coronavirus pandemic -- as well as episodes throughout Trump's business career, Trump's handling of her father's struggle with alcoholism and dysfunction and infighting within the family. She writes that Trump's father, Fred Trump, "dismantled his oldest son," Freddy Trump, Mary's father and Trump's brother.

"The only reason Donald escaped the same fate is that his personality served his father's purpose. That's what sociopaths do: they co-opt others and use them toward their own ends--ruthlessly and efficiently, with no tolerance for dissent or resistance," Mary Trump writes.

She writes at length about how she sees Trump, comparing him to a three-year-old, saying he "knows he has never been loved" and arguing that Trump's "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."

She even claimed that Trump even paid someone to take the SAT tests for him to help him get into the University of Pennsylvania. Trump was "worried that his grade point average, which put him far from the top of his class, would scuttle his efforts to get accepted."

She writes that he enlisted "a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him," adding the test-taker was compensated for the effort.

"Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well," Mary Trump writes.

Trump initially attended Fordham University in New York as an undergraduate before transferring to Penn's Wharton School.

Matthews said in a statement that the SAT allegation was "absurd" and "completely false."

'It might be useful to have a close relative on the bench'

Mary Trump says that she didn't take her uncle's run for president seriously at first, and didn't think Donald Trump did either.

" 'He's a clown,' my aunt Maryanne said during one of our regular lunches at the time. 'This will never happen,' " Mary Trump wrote.

During the campaign, Mary Trump says her aunt, former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, accused Donald Trump of using Freddy Trump's death "for political purposes" by citing it while addressing the opioids crisis.

Mary Trump also claims that Donald Trump helped his sister to obtain an open seat in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, through his friend and lawyer, Roy Cohn.

"Maryanne thought it would be a great fit, and Donald thought it might be useful to have a close relative on the bench in a state in which he planned to do a lot of business," she writes. "Cohn gave Attorney General Ed Meese a call, and Maryanne was nominated in September and confirmed in October."

Mary Trump also noted in the book her aunt Maryanne insisted she earned her judgeship on her own merit.

CNN has reached out to representatives of Trump Barry for comment.

Trump Barry wouldn't have ruled on any cases directly related to the Trump Organization or her family. After her service on the district court, she was elevated to a federal appeals court by President Bill Clinton in 1999. In 2018, the judiciary investigated whether she broke judicial conduct rules related to financial transactions in the 1980s and 1990s.

She retired in 2019, ending the investigation before it reached any conclusions.

'Undermine an adversary'

Trump's niece describes what she says is the psychological hold that Fred Trump, the President's father, had over his children, particularly Freddy and Donald. She writes how lying in order to please and appease their father was "a way of life," and how Donald essentially watched his older brother Fred's failings to adapt and become his father's favored son.

Freddy had a brief and tumultuous career as a pilot for TWA in the early 1960s, just before Mary was born. This came after Freddy left the Trump company after he was supposed to become heir to the family business. Mary writes that Fred saw her father's decision to leave Trump Management to become a pilot as "a betrayal, and he had no intention of letting his oldest son forget it."

The way Mary Trump tells it, Freddy's fraught relationship with their father left an opening which Donald saw and took advantage of. According to Mary, the underlying message of this early brotherly competition Fred fostered was one of winning.

"Whether Donald understood the underlying message or not, Fred did: in family, as in life, there could be only one winner; everybody else had to lose," she writes.

The stormy relationship she describes between Fred and Freddy Trump seem to echo accounts of how Donald, Freddy's younger brother, expects undying loyalty from those around him and seeks control over those people's lives and decisions.

Freddy, Mary writes, would tell friends about the "constant barrage of abuse" he was receiving from his father after getting the job at TWA.

"Donald may not have understood the origin of their father's contempt for Freddy and his decision to become a professional pilot, but he had the bull's unerring instinct for finding the most effective way to undermine an adversary," Mary Trump writes.

She also traced some of Donald Trump's current behavior back to his childhood, enabled by his father.

"Donald began to realize that there was nothing he could do wrong, so he stopped trying to do anything 'right.' He became bolder and more aggressive because he was rarely challenged or held to account by the only person in the world who mattered -- his father," Mary writes.

Mary Trump described her own father's death from a heart attack at age 42 as a regretful episode that illustrated the dysfunctional family dynamics of her grandfather and uncle. Despite having long-standing financial ties to nearby hospitals -- including a whole wing named for the Trump family at Jamaica Hospital -- no one sought medical help for her father, who had suffered from alcoholism and a faulty heart valve, for weeks as he was ailing in their family home.

"A single phone call would have guaranteed the best treatment for their son at either facility. No call was made," she writes.

'Master of the universe'

Mary Trump recounts the President's rise to prominence in New York real estate as largely the result of Fred Trump's financial and behind-the-scenes support, which she said was necessary to compensate for Donald's shortcomings.

She also traces what she views as an aptitude toward authoritarians to Donald Trump's earlier days working with famed lawyer Roy Cohn in the 1980s.

At the same time, she recounts Trump's apparent disinterest at her father's decline into depression and alcoholism, which she characterizes as spurred partly by her grandfather's decision to elevate Donald instead of Freddy as his right-hand man and successor.

Throughout, Mary Trump portrays the support Donald received from his father as critical to his attempts to create a brand for himself as a "master of the universe" with a preternatural ability for business.

"His comfort with portraying that image, along with his father's favor and the material security his father's wealth afforded him, gave him the unearned confidence to pull off what even at the beginning was a charade: selling himself not just as a rich playboy but as a brilliant, self-made businessman," she writes. "In those early days, that expensive endeavor was being enthusiastically, if clandestinely, funded by my grandfather."

As she tracks Donald's rise in his father's company, she also identifies some of the origins of his current behaviors, be it dishonesty or a lack of empathy. She cites Cohn, who had worked on Sen. Joseph McCarthy's committee investigating alleged communist activity in the US, as a formative model.

"Fred had also primed Donald to be drawn to men such as Cohn, as he would later be drawn to authoritarians such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un or anyone else, really, with a willingness to flatter and the power to enrich him," she writes.

Mary Trump writes she believed Trump's father helped create who the President became, giving him the false impression of success by propping up many failed endeavors.

"Donald was to my grandfather what the border wall has been for Donald: a vanity project funded at the expense of more worthy pursuits," she writes.

Fight over Fred Trump's will

Mary Trump says she was cut out of her grandfather Fred's will as a result of her father's death, which sparked a years' long legal battle. She writes that Robert Trump, her uncle and Donald Trump's younger brother, explained to her that she was largely excluded because her father died of alcoholism, and wasn't around to inherit a share of the fortune. The grandfather also hated Mary Trump's mother.

Because of these disputes, Mary Trump and her brother ended up suing the Trump family, reaching a settlement that included the non-disclosure agreement that arose up during the book rollout.

Mary Trump also accused Donald Trump of trying to "steal vast sums of money from his siblings" by secretly trying to change his ailing father's will to write his siblings out of control of the family's fortune.

According to the book, after Maryanne Trump Barry and her husband had a lawyer look into it, the Trump family patriarch's will was rewritten so the four siblings including Donald would have power over the estate and receive equal amounts.

"Maryanne would say years later, 'We would have been penniless. Elizabeth would have been begging on a street corner. We would have had to beg Donald if we wanted a cup of coffee.' It was 'sheer luck' that they had stopped the scheme," Mary Trump writes.

The book also provides other colorful, sometimes lighter, observations of the Trump family dynamic, such as a description of Christmas gifts she received from Donald and Ivana. One year, Mary Trump writes they gave her a three-pack of underwear from Bloomingdales. Another year, they gave her an obviously re-gifted basket with crackers, sardines and a salami -- with an imprint in the cellophane wrap where a tin of caviar had been.

Legal battle over book's publication

Mary Trump's book is being published two weeks early by Simon & Schuster on July 14, amid high demand following a court battle over its release. The publisher has already printed 75,000 copies of the book, according to court filings.

After the book was disclosed last month, the President's younger brother Robert Trump took legal action to block its publication. Robert Trump briefly won an injunction against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster in New York State Supreme Court, but an appellate court lifted the temporary restraining order against the publisher the next day.

The restraining order is still in place against Mary Trump, so she is unable to comment publicly.

Her spokesman, Chris Bastardi, said Monday: "The act by a sitting president to muzzle a private citizen is just the latest in a series of disturbing behaviors."

CNN's Kevin Liptak, Michael Warren, Clare Foran, Holmes Lyband, Betsy Klein, Tara Subramaniam, Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

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