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Mary Trump has a stark warning about the political ambitions of Ivanka and Don Jr – and the possibility of a Trump dynasty

In an interview with The Independent, the president’s niece says that she expects Donald Jr to try for office, but Ivanka could end up as vice president

Andrew Feinberg
Wednesday 05 August 2020 12:26 BST
Mary Trump says the U.S. has devolved into a version of her incredibly dysfunctional family
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Will Donald Trump’s children take up his banner if he’s felled by voters this November?

According to his niece, Mary Trump, the question of her cousins’ potential dynastic ambitions is a relevant one, albeit one that “makes [her] head hurt”.

Since he assumed the presidency in 2017, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump have occupied prominent but distinct spaces in their father’s political orbit. His eldest daughter has spent his first (and perhaps only) term occupying highly-coveted West Wing office space as an unpaid “senior adviser”.

And although a viral video of her attempting to insert herself into a conversation between then-British prime minister Theresa May, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron and IMF director Christine Legarde at last year’s G20 summit showed how out of her depth she was, she still pops up occasionally at White House events, on official presidential trips, and on social media where she promotes women’s empowerment, “workforce development”, and other soft-focus initiatives.

Her older brother, meanwhile, has become a much-sought-after fundraiser and favourite speaker at Republican Party events. He also frequently appears on television to defend his father and has even issued his own endorsements in Senate and gubernatorial races this year. According to McKay Coppins of The Atlantic, the president’s namesake told a group of gun enthusiasts last year that he finds the idea of simply going back to being a deal-making real estate executive to be “boring”, adding that he’d been bitten by “the politics bug”.

But in an interview with The Independent, Dr Trump, the author of the best-selling Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man and a clinical psychologist by training, says the possibility that either of her cousins would choose follow their father into electoral politics shows that the validity of the Dunning-Kreuger effect – the fact that less intelligent people overestimate their gifts – “gets absolutely reinforced every day”, and is evidence of the poor condition the Republican Party is in after nearly four years with her uncle at the helm.

“The fact that the Republican Party is in such a state that either one of these people could be considered is quite astonishing,” says Dr Trump, who adds that of her two eldest cousins, it is more likely that Donald Trump Jr – who she calls “Donny” – will follow his father into the political arena.

“He’s tied into the base in a more fundamental way because he’s so abrasive and so vicious from what I can see online, he has no boundaries he won’t cross, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to advance Donald’s agenda, so I assume the same thing would be true for his own,” she explains. “But I don’t see Ivanka having the same kind of appeal to them [the GOP base] in brute force terms.”

Yet Dr Trump, who writes in Too Much and Never Enough that she believes her uncle’s complex pathologies are the result of her grandfather’s high-functioning sociopathy, says neither of her cousins “would for one second think they’re fit for or worthy of these kinds of aspirations” if either possessed “any sense of self-awareness”.

“Whether it’s having been brainwashed into thinking that Donald is the greatest thing that ever lived and by extension as [his] children, that they also share those characteristics, or because they’re just taking advantage of his position and they know how to manipulate him, I don’t know,” she says before conceding that the idea of Donald Trump’s children following him into politics “does make sense in a bad way” because of the family dynamic created by their father, which echoes the environment in which he grew up.

It’s entirely possible the president would be on board for future campaigns by his kids, she says, because to suggest that either his eldest son or daughter isn’t cut out for politics would be a reflection of his own abilities.

“There’s a similarity between that relationship and my grandfather’s relationship with Donald in that by the time my grandfather realised that maybe Donald wasn’t so good at this real estate thing, he couldn’t possibly admit it because he was he was too invested in Donald’s quote-unquote success,” she says. “So I think it’s partially Donald protecting his own ego from acknowledging that his children may not be everything he would want them to be because it makes them look bad.”

While she acknowledges that Donald Trump’s kids could probably find success in GOP politics based on their parentage alone, Mary Trump predicts that any attempt by her cousins to run for office in the wake of an electoral defeat for their father would be “considered something of a joke” by the majority of Americans.

But she fears that should her uncle prevail over Joe Biden this November, Americans will not be able to choose whether they want to further empower his children.

“I think if somehow Joe Biden doesn’t win in November, then I think it all becomes a moot point because we’re going to be operating in a completely different system – we’re going to be dealing with a party… and somebody in the Oval Office who is totally unfettered,” she says. “Donald in particular will feel he has to answer to nobody.”

Under such circumstances, Mary Trump agrees with the suggestion that it wouldn’t be a stretch for her uncle to feel that he would be free to ask Mike Pence, the vice president, for his resignation, then proceed to browbeat the Congress into approving his daughter as the new vice president. And because she believes he has no qualms about cheating to win re-election – and is engaging in it right now by calling the legitimacy of mail-in voting into question and ordering the post office to slow down mail – she says Democrats need to make sure they win in a landslide so massive as to be unquestionable.

“If Joe Biden wins, his margin has to be enormous. It has to be so big that practically nobody other than the 22 per cent to 28 per cent of people who won’t question anything Donald does – and even somebody like Mitch McConnell – isn’t going to be able to claim that it wasn’t a clean victory,” she explains, adding that a “huge and crushing” loss will cause the president to be “so narcissistically injured that he’ll have to get away from it just to protect himself from acknowledging it”.

Trump claims bank fraud investigation is 'continuation of witch hunt'

If that happens, she predicts that the president is far more likely to react by claiming that he’s the best thing that ever happened to the country but because ungrateful voters don’t appreciate him as their president, he will instead “do something really important, like take over [pro-Trump One America News] or something”. She reiterates that it was unlikely that he would do anything outrageous – such as claim that he is still the rightful president after Biden takes office in January – if he receives an overwhelming and undeniable rebuke from voters.

“He’s miserable now, and I’m guessing he knows it’s a very good possibility that if he loses, he gets prosecuted, so I don’t think he’s interested in staying around for the sake of being around.”

When asked if Donald Trump would flee to one of his international properties to avoid prosecution, she says such a possibility would be “freaky” because her uncle is “so provincial”.

“But on the other hand, he almost never goes outside, so what difference does it make where he lives?”

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