After a judge ruled that Mary Trump was free to speak openly about the revelations in her new bestselling book about her uncle Donald, Too Much and Never Enough, she has appeared on Good Morning America and The Daily Beast podcast The New Abnormal. On Wednesday night, she made her late-night television debut with Stephen Colbert.
“Now before we get started, have you seen my show? Because I talk about your uncle a lot,” Colbert said. When she said yes, he asked, “Do you enjoy it? Are you OK with my show?”
“I think it’s amazing, actually,” she replied.
The appreciation was mutual as Colbert clearly valued her insight into the man he makes fun of on a nightly basis. And as a clinical psychologist, he wanted to know how she would go about treating what she describes in her book as emotional damage her uncle suffered during his childhood. “Is there anything that could be done for the president to give him some sort of solace, which in some ways would be better for the rest of us?” he asked.
“It’s an awful answer, and I hate saying it, but I think the answer is no,” Mary Trump told him. “Partially because it’s extremely difficult to help somebody who is not aware he needs help. I think at this point in his life, it would be impossible for Donald to admit to any kind of weakness or incapacity that needs to be addressed. He also unfortunately seems to be surrounded by people who are perfectly happy having him behave the way he behaves now. Whatever their agendas may be, they’re not that interested in making Donald a better person.”
Later, Colbert asked his guest if her other family members are aware of Donald Trump’s personality defects and just choose not to acknowledge them. “They’re aware,” she said. “But they are all sort of tied together in ways that would make it impossible to breach what they would consider family loyalty. So none of them will ever say anything.”
“I think if we look simply at what he experienced as a child, we should have a great deal of compassion for what that child experienced, witnessed and suffered,” Mary Trump said. “However, that having been said, Donald is an adult human being who understands the difference between right and wrong. He doesn’t think that the rules apply to him, but he understands them. And that we don’t need to have compassion for and it certainly doesn't mean that we don’t have to hold him accountable.”
Asked if she’s ever seen her uncle held accountable for anything in his life, she said, “That’s the problem. When you are not held accountable, and people fail to hold you accountable, the message is: ‘I can keep doing what I am doing.’ And the message Donald gets is that he can also double down. And he’s getting away with it.”
As to whether she was scared to publish this book, she said, “No, I expect that there will be retaliation. But I felt an obligation to do this. And that outweighs all other considerations. I’m taking necessary precautions. But no, I don’t feel fear at all.”
In the book, Mary Trump calls the president’s father, Fred Trump Sr., a “high-functioning sociopath.” So Colbert wanted to know if that label applies to Donald Trump as well. “Do you believe that the president of the United States has sociopathic tendencies, and if so, is it high-functioning?” he asked.
“Donald has so many pathologies and they’re so complex, there is so much comorbidity that it’s really difficult to tease out what’s going on without testing and that sort of thing,” she replied. “But clearly he’s comfortable doing heartless things. Clearly he doesn’t seem to be interested in empathy.”
So she thinks it’s “fair to say that he demonstrates sociopathic tendencies” but “equally fair to say that he’s not high-functioning at all, and that’s something that should give everybody in this country pause.” In fact, she thinks he would be incapable of functioning on his own in the “real world” and has instead been allowed to “fail upwards spectacularly” for his entire adult life.
Finally, Colbert got Mary Trump to weigh in on the cognitive test the president has been boasting about incessantly. “I proved I was all there because I aced it,” the president told Sean Hannity earlier this month. “I took it at Walter Reed, a medical center, in front of doctors, and they were very surprised.” Just tonight, during yet another interview on Fox News, he claimed he got “extra points” for remembering a series of five simple words in the correct order: “person, woman, man, camera, TV.”
“What is the purpose of a test like that?” the host asked her.
“From what I understand, and I don’t know precisely what the test is, I never used it myself because I worked with a totally different kind of patient,” she said. “But it is a test to screen for early signs of dementia, I believe. So you know, we don’t know how he did on it, but as far as I’m concerned, his talking about it the way he is talking about it is failing the test.”
“Bragging about passing a cognitive test is one of the ways you fail a cognitive test,” Colbert added.
All Mary Trump could say was, “Yeah.”