Revenge, as Mary Trump seems well aware, is a dish best served cold. Twenty years after a bitter familial feud over her grandfather’s will, Donald Trump’s niece looks like she is finally about to wreak vengeance on her uncle.
The Daily Beast reported on Monday that Mary, 55, who is the daughter of Donald’s late brother Fred Trump Jr, has written a “harrowing and salacious” book about the president. Too Much and Never Enough will be published in the US on 28 July, a month before the Republican National Convention. The timing is clearly designed to do maximum damage.
Why the bad blood? Well, for one thing, Mary reportedly blames Donald for mistreating her alcoholic father – behaviour she believes contributed to his death from a heart attack at the age of 42. Then there was the fight over Fred Trump Sr’s estate in 2000. Mary and her brother, Fred Trump III, claimed they were dealt with unfairly in their grandfather’s will as a result of “fraud and undue influence” by Donald and two of his siblings. The ill will is said to have escalated when Donald, in retaliation for the lawsuit, cut off medical insurance for Fred III’s seriously ill infant son, who required round-the-clock care. Fred III was quoted as saying: “Our family puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.”
Dysfunctional is an understatement. The appearance-obsessed Trumps project an image of unity, but, behind the polished facade, they seem to loathe and distrust each other. This is not surprising, considering that one of Donald’s favourite mantras to his kids growing up was reportedly: “Don’t trust anyone.”
According to a GQ profile of Donald Trump Jr, the president used to ask his children whether they trusted him. When they replied:
“Of course,” he would tell them off for not learning their lesson.
Maybe he had a point: Mary’s book (which is also said to contain “damning” comments from Donald’s sister, the retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry) marks the first time a Trump has written a critical tell-all about the president, but I would be surprised if it were the last time one of his own undermined him. The question is: which Trump will turn on the president next?
Donald probably does not need to worry much about his oldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr: they seem too stupid to be scheming. (Years of unfettered hair gel abuse may have rotted their brains.) Ivanka, however, seems more than capable of sacrificing dear daddy to advance her ambitions.
Indeed, an interesting feature of Trump’s presidency has been the frequent “leaks” to the press declaring how Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are diligently working behind the scenes to exert a moderating influence on the president. If these mysterious leaks are to be believed, Javanka have saved us from Donald’s worst instincts.
But Ivanka is too obvious. It is always the quiet ones you have to watch out for – and you don’t get much quieter than Melania Trump. The first lady says so little that Ivanka has reportedly nicknamed her “the Portrait”; Melania, in turn, calls Ivanka “the Princess”.
Melania may be taciturn, but she is no dummy – nor is she a pushover. According to a new unauthorised biography of Melania (which the White House has dismissed as “fiction”), an enterprising Ivanka tried to rename the First Lady’s Office the “First Family Office”, but Melania was having none of it. She also, apparently, put an end to Ivanka treating the White House as if it was her own home.
In addition, it has been widely reported that she used her husband’s presidency as an opportunity to renegotiate her prenuptial agreement – staying in New York during the first few months he was in office as leverage for negotiations. “That woman! She will be the end of him,” one of Trump’s friends was reportedly overheard saying about Melania’s refusal to move to Washington. Who knows, those may be prophetic words. Perhaps Melania will end up finishing what Mary has started.
-Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist