Trump was ‘in pain and afraid’ during post-Covid display of bravado, niece’s book says

Mary Trump’s new book, The Reckoning, describes a US trauma worsened by her uncle

Donald Trump: when the president came out to the Truman balcony of the White House after returning from hospital he had a pained expression that Mary recognised from her grandmother. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Donald Trump: when the president came out to the Truman balcony of the White House after returning from hospital he had a pained expression that Mary recognised from her grandmother. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

 

Donald Trump was “afraid” when he put on a display of bravado at the White House after being treated for a severe coronavirus infection, his estranged niece Mary Trump has claimed.

The then US president had a pained expression that Mary recognised from her grandmother, but he dared not admit his fear even to himself, she writes in a scathing new book.

The Reckoning argues that the United States is suffering a national trauma manifest in rising levels of rage and hatred and exacerbated by her uncle’s assault on democracy. It follows the psychologist’s memoir, Too Much and Never Enough, which portrayed Trump as the product of a dysfunctional family.

Doing his best Mussolini imitation, my uncle took off his mask in a macho display of invulnerability. He jutted out his jaw just as my grandmother did when she was clamping down on her pain

Last October Trump was discharged from a military hospital after three days of treatment and made a typically theatrical return to the White House, landing on the south lawn and climbing a grand exterior staircase to the Truman balcony.

“Doing his best Mussolini imitation, he took off his mask in a macho display of invulnerability,” Mary writes. “He clenched his teeth and jutted out his jaw, just as my grandmother did when she was biting back anger or clamping down on her pain. In Donald, I saw the latter.”

She adds: “I have asthma, so I am acutely aware of what it looks like when somebody is struggling to breathe. He was in pain, he was afraid, but he would never admit that to anybody – not even himself. Because, as always, the consequences of admitting vulnerability were much more frightening to him than being honest.”

For all the outward show, Trump was more severely ill than the White House admitted at the time, with depressed blood oxygen levels and a lung problem associated with pneumonia, according to a February report in the New York Times. Some officials were worried that he would need to be put on a ventilator.

Mary eviscerates Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and, reflecting on his turbulent presidency, links his “unrestrained antisemitism and homophobia” to deadly violence in the United States and beyond. She argues that while the president was incompetent, others in his administration built a “lean and ruthless machine for advancing fascism”.

Mary Trump, who is 56, has become one of her uncle’s most trenchant critics; she says she does not love him. She has written memorably about family dinners in the Trump household, highlighting the coldness of her “sociopath” grandfather Fred, who was Donald’s father. Mary voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and last spoke to Donald at her aunt’s birthday party at the White House in April 2017.

I found it unthinkable that anyone should find out who I was or, more relevantly, who my uncle was. Long before my uncle had entered the political realm, I had never admitted to anyone that I belonged to the Trump family

At that point she was “in the worst psychological shape of my life”, she writes in the book, and several months later she sought treatment at a centre in Tucson, Arizona, that specialises in post-traumatic stress disorder. “I would be there for weeks, excavating decades-old wounds and trying to figure out why my uncle Donald’s elevation to the White House had so undone me.”

She was desperate to remain anonymous at the centre, where, fortunately, people did not reveal their last names. “Even so, I found it unthinkable that anyone should find out who I was or, more relevantly, who my uncle was. Long before my uncle had entered the political realm, I had never admitted to anyone that I belonged to the Trump family.”

With Too Much and Never Enough, which sold nearly a million copies on its first day of publication, Mary became the first member of the family to publish a Donald Trump biography. She has since been a frequent interviewee on US cable news and vocal supporter of Joe Biden’s 2020 election campaign against Trump.

In The Reckoning she widens the lens, contending that it is “almost impossible to grow up white in America and not be racist” and that Trump “is the symptom of a disease that has existed in the body politic from this country’s inception” but that has now “metastasized”.

She adds a stark warning: “From increasing levels of rage and hatred on the one side to increasing levels of helplessness, stress, and despair on the other, we are heading toward an even darker period in our nation’s history.” – Guardian

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