Over time, she deepened her studies of the disorder, contributed to a book on treating schizophrenia, wrote a dissertation on stalkers, and became a clinical psychologist. But not since she became part of the lawsuit in 2000 against her uncle has she spoken in detail about what she sees as the disorders of Donald Trump.
Now her silence could be coming to an end. Her book about her uncle — “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” — is slated to be published next month. The book is so potentially explosive that the Trump family is seeking to block publication, citing a confidentiality agreement that Mary Trump signed as part of a settlement about her inheritance. Mary Trump’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous Jr., said the president is trying to “suppress a book that will discuss matters of utmost public importance.”
The publisher has not revealed specifics, and Mary Trump, 55, declined an interview request. But clues to her dark view of her uncle can be seen in lawsuits, and interviews with former colleagues and teachers, academic papers and a series of now-deleted tweets, including one that said her uncle’s election was the “worst night of my life.”
A description of the book from publisher Simon & Schuster suggests it will draw heavily on her studies of family dysfunction, with Mary using her clinical background to dissect “a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse,” including “the strange and harmful relationship between” her late father and Donald Trump.
The tragedy to which the book description alludes probably is informed by an event that infused both her life and that of her uncle: the death of her father — President Trump’s older brother Fred Jr. — of alcoholism when she was 16 years old.
Friends of her father’s told The Washington Post last year that they blame his death in part on the way he was treated by Donald Trump, and the president said in an interview last year with The Post that he regrets how he dealt with his brother.
President Trump told Axios that he didn’t think his niece was allowed to write the book because she signed the confidentiality agreement. The White House declined further comment.
Donald Trump’s brother Robert, who filed the petition to stop the book, said in the filing that Mary had agreed after accepting an unspecified financial settlement from the inheritance fight that she “would not publish any account” of her relationship with Donald Trump or his siblings. In a statement, Robert Trump said Mary’s decision to “mischaracterize our family relationship after all these years for her own financial gain is a travesty and injustice” to her late father, Fred Jr., and grandfather, Fred Sr., saying the family feels that “Mary’s actions are truly a disgrace.”
A Queens County Surrogate’s Court on Thursday denied the petition on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, but Robert Trump’s attorney said it would be refiled with the New York State Supreme Court.
From birth, Mary Trump was supposed to be set for a gilded life, a grandchild of Fred Sr. and Mary. Her father, Fred Jr., was the eldest of Fred Trump Sr.’s children, and he was expected to follow his father as the leader of the family business.
Mary was featured in society columns as a fashionably dressed young girl, and she spent time at her grandparents’ palatial home in Queens, watching her father feud with Donald and Fred Sr., who ran a New York City real estate company.
Much to the family’s consternation, Fred Jr. was interested in becoming a pilot for TWA, not in renting New York City apartments. After graduating from Lehigh University in 1960, he married a flight attendant named Linda Lee Clapp in 1962. He went to flight school and the couple had two children, including Mary, who was born in 1965.
Fred Jr. was already drinking heavily by the time Mary was born, and his troubles with alcohol may have caused him to give up his dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot, according to three former TWA employees who trained with him. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Fred Sr. continued to pressure him to join the family business.
By the time Mary was 6 years old, her mother divorced Fred Jr. A family friend, David Miller, said in an interview that while Fred Jr.’s drinking played a role in the divorce, there was also a lot of pressure from Fred Sr., who Miller said disliked Linda. “She wasn’t welcomed into the family,” Miller said of Linda. Linda could not be reached for comment.
Fred Trump Sr. agreed at the time of the divorce to support Linda and his grandchildren, providing rent and $100 per week for expenses, plus $25 per week for Mary and Fred III, according to court records. Fred Sr. agreed to pay for Mary to attend a private school during her early years as well as her college and medical expenses.
On Sept. 26, 1981, Fred Trump Jr. died at 42 years old of a heart attack, which the family has said stemmed from alcoholism. Mary was 16 years old.
Carried a burden
Mary eventually attended Tufts University, where she studied the Southern novelist William Faulkner. In a seminar with English professor Alan Lebowitz, Mary and her 15 or so fellow students analyzed the Compson family portrayed in novels such as “The Sound and the Fury.
The Compsons bore some similarities to her own family: Like the Trumps, the Compsons migrated to the United States from Scotland, and the family was riven by dysfunction. At the time, Donald Trump was running his Atlantic City casinos, which went into bankruptcy, and preparing to divorce his first wife, Ivana, and marry Marla Maples.
Lebowitz said in a telephone interview that he has rarely had a student as exceptional as Mary Trump, who was featured in the Tufts commencement program as having won the award for top English student.
“She was just as smart and accomplished as any I’ve taught in 40 years,” Lebowitz said. “She took a seminar on William Faulkner with me and she wrote two absolutely stunning papers, long, deep and elegant. We studied an enormously complex, interesting writer and she got deeply into it because she is a deep thinker.”
Lebowitz, who is retired, recalled that when she entered his classroom more than 30 years ago, he learned of the weight she carried.
“I knew that her father had been a very sad story and that she was carrying the burden of that story,” he said.
Mary and her brother Fred III had received some financial support over the years from the Trump family, and they expected to receive a significant inheritance from their grandfather, Fred Sr., who died in 1999. Mary and her brother had hoped they would get an amount close to what would have gone to their father, if he had lived, but they learned they were due to receive a lesser amount, and a probate fight ensued, court records show.
Mary and Fred III alleged that an unnamed person associated with the Trump family improperly engineered a change in the will of their grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s disease during his last years. Mary and her brother said the changes in the will were “procured by fraud and undue influence.”
Donald said at the time that he supported a cutoff of medical coverage that had been provided by a family company for Fred III’s son, William, who had cerebral palsy. Donald Trump told the New York Daily News that when he and his siblings were sued by Fred III and Mary, he felt, “Why should we give [William] medical coverage?”
Donald’s brother Robert said in a deposition that the family had given Mary annual gifts of $20,000, in addition to income from family ventures, estimating that Mary and Fred III annually received “close to $200,000 without either one lifting a finger at any time.”
Mary was livid about the family’s decision to cut off medical coverage for her nephew William. She told the Daily News at the time, “Given this family, it would be utterly naive to say it has nothing to do with money. But for both me and my brother, it has much more to do with that our father be recognized. He existed, he lived, he was their oldest son. And William is my father’s grandson. He is as much a part of that family as anybody else. He desperately needs extra care.”
In the 2000 lawsuit, Mary did not directly address her uncle Robert’s assertion that she was “not gainfully employed.” But it was around this time, after working on a master’s degree in English at Columbia University, that she served in a voluntary role in the study of schizophrenia patients, assisting senior social worker Rachel Miller at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.
Miller said Mary Trump showed an intense interest in understanding what drove people into psychological dysfunction. “She went into a situation that is hard to see. Many doctors and social workers couldn’t go there, it was so frightening to see somebody losing their mind,” Miller said.
Mary Trump accompanied her in visits with patients who were typically 16 to 25 years old and experiencing their first episodes of schizophrenia. “She had her life set on doing what she wanted to do, which was to be a psychologist,” Miller said.
Later, when Miller needed help on a book she co-wrote, “Diagnosis: Schizophrenia,” about the study, she said Mary worked long hours to help her research and write the manual, which became popular in the field and with families of people with the disease.
‘Worst night of my life’
Mary Trump continued her studies at Adelphi University, where she earned a master’s degree in psychology in 2001, a master’s in clinical psychology in 2003, and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 2010, a school official said.
In her 205-page dissertation, “A Characterological Evaluation of the Victims of Stalking,” she examined whether there were certain personality characteristics that made some people “more vulnerable to being victims of stalking by an intimate partner.”
A few years later, Mary founded a company called Trump Coaching Group, which provided wellness and fitness services on Long Island.
An archived version of the now-deleted company website said the company focused on nurturing relationships. It said Mary’s interest stemmed “from her own struggles as an athlete with asthma which have given her a true appreciation for the extent to which physical well-being is vital to psychological and emotional well-being.”
One of the coaches listed as a team member said the company didn’t develop much beyond the creation of the website. Paige Crosby, who said she participated in a year-long training program with Mary Trump to become a life coach, recalled her talking about her “hurt feelings” from her “sour relationship” with Donald.
As Donald Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, Mary Trump does not appear to have said anything publicly about him.
But when it became clear that her uncle had won the presidency, she took to Twitter. “Worst night of my life,” she wrote at least 12 times in tweets that have been deleted recently. She wrote that “We should be judged harshly. . . . I grieve for our country.”
Mary Trump’s publicist, asked to verify that Mary wrote the tweets, declined to comment.
Last year, according to corporate filings, Mary created a company that echoed the name of the tragic family in Faulkner’s novels: Compson Enterprises. In an initial listing for her book, designed to keep the project a secret, her name was given as Mary Compson.
Now Mary Trump appears to hope that, with an assist from the publication of her book, the next presidential election will turn out differently from the last. She foreshadowed it at 4:07 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2016, shortly after her uncle was declared the president-elect, when she tweeted simply: “2020.”
The top prosecutor in the U.S. Virgin Islands says the estate needs to provide more detail about Jeffrey Epstein’s finances and is insisting on clauses that could protect others from wrongdoing.
Some of the same furtive techniques that Jeffrey Epstein employed in life are showing up in the litigation over dividing up the wealth he left behind when he died.
There are mysterious companies, lingering nondisclosure agreements and contractual clauses that some lawyers fear could protect anyone who took part in Mr. Epstein’s wrongdoing.
The estate’s lawyers say they have a plan to fairly distribute money to dozens of women who have accused Mr. Epstein of sexually abusing them as teenagers. But the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Mr. Epstein built a complex web of corporate entities, says Mr. Epstein’s money is still buying silence.
And in the middle is a fortune estimated at well over a half-billion dollars.
“We have a lot of concerns with respect to the transparency of the estate and its finances and the accounting of the estate,” the attorney general, Denise N. George, said in an interview last month.
Ms. George filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit against the estate in January, roughly five months after Mr. Epstein committed suicide while being held in federal custody in Manhattan after his arrest on sex trafficking charges. She said she sued to protect the interests of Mr. Epstein’s accusers and recoup some of the money that Mr. Epstein made during his two decades in the Virgin Islands.
The estate has insisted it is acting in the best interest of Mr. Epstein’s accusers. But it has also provided an incomplete accounting of his finances, according to records reviewed by The New York Times.
At least one business — IGO Company L.L.C., a corporate entity established by Mr. Epstein in December 2006 — was left out of the estate’s court filings. The company, which lists Mr. Epstein as its sole owner, was still active and in good standing as of Monday, according to a U.S. Virgin Islands government site.
Lawyers for the estate did not respond to a request for comment. The co-executors of the estate are Darren Indyke, a lawyer, and Richard Kahn, an accountant. Both men worked closely with Mr. Epstein for many years and were listed as officers for some of his businesses.
Much of the fighting between the estate and Ms. George’s office involves a plan to establish a victims’ compensation fund, which would allow accusers to receive payments from the estate without a potentially costly court case. The estate’s representatives say the proposed fund — which would be set up with the help of the specialist who ran the compensation program for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — would allow accusers to receive money quickly and privately.
But Ms. George said the estate wanted to attach too many strings to those payments.
On April 7, Ms. George’s office told the probate court handling Mr. Epstein’s will that she and the estate had reached an impasse over the estate’s demand that victims who take part in the fund agree to a broad release that would bar them from suing any party “whether they participated negligently or intentionally in wrongdoing themselves.”
To Ms. George, the estate’s conduct was a reminder of the legal maneuvers that surrounded Mr. Epstein’s guilty plea 12 years ago to soliciting prostitution from a minor in Florida. In 2007, federal prosecutors agreed to a wide-ranging nonprosecution agreement that covered Mr. Epstein’s named and unnamed co-conspirators. (A federal appeals court this month rejected a legal challenge brought by one of his victims to the agreement.)
Ms. George’s office said the estate now wanted to “secure similarly broad protection for Epstein’s compatriots-in-crime from their victims.”
Lawyers for the estate reject that argument. In their response, they said Ms. George had mischaracterized the situation and said two lawyers representing several accusers were ready to move forward with the fund. The estate’s lawyers contend the liability release is “modeled on releases employed in multiple voluntary compensation programs.” Its intent, they say, is to make sure a victim does not double-dip by getting compensation from the fund and then suing an individual affiliated with the estate who might be entitled to be legally reimbursed by the estate.
The particulars of how Mr. Epstein made his millions have long been a mystery, in particular after his 2008 conviction. Financial filings the estate has made so far have raised as many questions as they have answered.
In January, the estate filed a required report that, along with routine transactions to pay bills and other expenses, showed the estate had transferred more than $12 million to Southern Country International, a little-known private bank Mr. Epstein had established in 2014.
The magistrate judge overseeing the probate of the will, Carolyn Hermon-Purcell, questioned the estate’s lawyers about the transfers and asked for a fuller accounting. The estate has not yet filed an explanation; the territory’s courts have granted blanket extensions because of the coronavirus outbreak.
But according to four people familiar with the matter, the estate’s $12 million payment to the bank involved preparations for Mr. Epstein’s criminal case. Mr. Epstein used the bank to pay a $12 million retainer fee to the criminal defense attorney Reid Weingarten, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter has not been made public.
In mid-December, Mr. Weingarten’s law firm, Steptoe & Johnson, returned the unused portion of that retainer — roughly $11 million, according to the estate’s first quarterly filing. The next day the estate sent that money to the bank.
What happened to the money in Southern Country after that is not clear; the estate reported the bank had a year-end balance of just $500,000.
Southern Country is an unusual kind of bank: an international banking entity, which is limited to conducting business for customers overseas. Mr. Epstein was approved for his license in 2014, but the bank had not commenced doing business as of April 2018, according to a letter the bank sent to its regulator.
Ms. George’s office is small compared with her mainland counterparts, and she has bulked up its resources by hiring a forensic accountant and outside lawyers with Motley Rice, a large plaintiffs’ litigation firm. But it has been active.
In recent weeks, Ms. George’s office sent a subpoena seeking bank records for Mr. Epstein’s businesses in the Virgin Islands, according to two people briefed on the matter. She also subpoenaed some records from the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority, the government agency that granted lucrative tax benefits to Mr. Epstein’s companies, said Tracy Bhola, an authority lawyer.
According to one person familiar with the matter, Ms. George’s office has also made a demand for information from Mr. Epstein’s former girlfriend and business associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who recently filed a lawsuit against the estate asking it to cover her legal fees for any claims brought against her by his accusers.
Ms. George’s office has also reached out to some of Mr. Epstein’s former employees in the Virgin Islands. She said her office was trying to navigate around nondisclosure agreements that Mr. Epstein had signed with many of his them. She said the estate should commit to releasing the employees from those agreements.
“Just the existence of an N.D.A. casts a shadow or chilling effect on anyone speaking freely,” she said.
While many of Mr. Epstein’s companies — including IGO Company L.L.C. — continue to exist on paper, there is little left of their physical operations.
Those include Southern Trust, once Mr. Epstein’s main business venture, which generated $300 million in profits in just six years. Mr. Epstein had said it was a DNA research firm, although Ms. George said her office had found no evidence it engaged in that kind of work. Southern Trust alone is valued at $234 million, and the estate has yet to disclose where most of its assets are being held.
For months after his death, employees still showed up at the company’s office in the American Yacht Harbor club on St. Thomas. That stopped in late February, and by the start of last month the office doors were secured with a padlock.
Ahead of a major address in New York City, the Democratic hopeful is wrapping her campaign in an anticorruption pitch to Democratic primary voters
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing a federal ban on all fundraising activities hosted by lobbyists as part of a new, broad set of anticorruption proposals, adding weight to a theme that has underpinned her White House bid.
The plan, outlined Monday morning on the blog site Medium, builds on anticorruption legislation Ms. Warren announced last year. It adds the new lobbying prohibitions, as well as a ban to prevent senior executive branch officials and members of Congress from serving on for-profit boards—whether or not they receive compensation from such positions. Ms. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, unveiled the proposal ahead of one of the splashiest events of her presidential campaign: an evening speech at New York City’s Washington Square Park.
The ideas are unlikely to become law while Republicans control the Senate and the White House. GOP lawmakers have generally lined up against similar proposals, citing constitutional concerns.
Typically, new restrictions on registered lobbyists lead to more Washington operatives deciding not to register, instead referring to themselves as consultants or strategic advisers. Ms. Warren says her plan would close that workaround by expanding the definition of lobbyist to include “all individuals paid to influence government.”
Such appeals to the idea that Washington is corrupt could pay off at the ballot box in 2020. In a WSJ/NBC News poll conducted last fall ahead of the midterm elections, 77% of all respondents said reducing the influence of special interests and corruption in Washington ranked as either the most important or a very important factor in deciding which candidate should get their vote. The only issue that ranked higher was the economy. Many Democrats who won House seats in 2018 campaigned on decreasing the influence of money in politics.
“Look closely, and you’ll see—on issue after issue, widely popular policies are stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way of big, structural change,” Ms. Warren wrote Monday.
Ms. Warren is also pushing to alter the definition of a “thing of value” in campaign finance laws to include tangible benefits made for campaign purposes, in what appeared to be a nod to President Trump.
The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2018 that Mr. Trump intervened to suppress stories about alleged sexual encounters with women, including the former Playboy model Karen McDougal and the former adult-film star known professionally as Stormy Daniels, citing interviews with three dozen people, court papers, corporate records and other documents. The president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told a federal judge that Mr. Trump had directed him during the 2016 campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in August 2018 to eight criminal charges, including campaign-finance violations. Mr. Trump has denied the encounters.
Ms. Warren is additionally proposing making it harder for corporations to seal settlements of product liability litigation, something Democrats have called for in the past, notably in 2014 following a faulty ignition switch installed on 2.6 million General Motors vehicles.
A federal judge in Chicago has made an unusual demand of the new chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Testify in front of—and perhaps be cross-examined by—lawyers for two companies that were recently penalized by the regulator.
U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey this week ordered Chairman Heath Tarbert to testify about statements he and his agency made following a $16 million agreement with Kraft Foods Group Inc. and Mondelez Global LLC to settle wheat price-rigging allegations.
Heads of regulatory agencies aren’t typically called upon to testify in court. Lawyers who specialize in CFTC cases called the move by Judge Blakey surreal and unprecedented.
The order, which also requires two other CFTC commissioners to testify at the hearing in Chicago, is an early setback for Mr. Tarbert, who took the helm July 15. The hearing could delve into the agency’s sensitive internal deliberations, and Judge Blakey on Monday raised the possibility he could make a referral for criminal contempt of court. Mr. Tarbert didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The hearing, scheduled for Sept. 12, follows a motion by Kraft and Mondelez alleging that the statements by the CFTC, Mr. Tarbert and the two other commissioners violated an unconventional provision of the settlement. The provision prohibited parties to the settlement from making public comments about the deal, beyond referring to information in public records or the terms of a consent order approved by Judge Blakey.
On Aug. 15, a day after the settlement was finalized, the CFTC did just that: It issued a press release announcing the settlement with Kraft and Mondelez, which were one corporate entity when the agency announced its civil charges in 2015.
“America is the breadbasket of the world; wheat markets are its heart,” Mr. Tarbert said in the release. “Market manipulation inflicts real pain on farmers by denying them the fair value of their hard work and crops.”
The commission and its two Democratic commissioners, Rostin Behnam and Dan Berkovitz, also released separate statements touting the settlement and noting the restriction on public statements. The statement from Messrs. Behnam and Berkovitz took particular issue with the provision but said it didn’t restrict them from speaking individually about the settlement.
The press release and statements prompted Kraft and Mondelez to accuse the CFTC of violating the terms of the settlement. The companies have asked Judge Blakey to impose a monetary penalty on the agency.
CFTC lawyers argue that the statements didn’t violate the provision because they largely summarized information already in the public record. And individual commissioners can’t be prohibited from issuing their own opinions as a matter of law, they say. Nonetheless, the CFTC agreed Monday to temporarily remove the three statements from its website.
At a hearing Monday, Judge Blakey ordered Messrs. Tarbert, Behnam and Berkovitz to appear in court to answer questions about the statements. Lawyers for the CFTC, including its enforcement division director, and counsel for Kraft and Mondelez also are expected to testify.
Messrs. Behnam and Berkovitz didn’t respond to requests for comment left with their offices at the CFTC. A lawyer for Kraft and Mondelez also didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The legal protections enjoyed by the CFTC could make it difficult for the judge, or for Kraft and Mondelez lawyers, to question the commissioners closely about internal decision-making at the regulator.
But a decision by the court that the agency had violated the settlement would be a bad outcome for the agency and its chairman, said Matt Kluchenek, a lawyer specializing in CFTC cases at Mayer Brown LLP.
The CFTC is concerned about its reputation and maintaining confidentiality, Mr. Kluchenek said. “If the court disagrees” with the agency’s arguments, he said, “it’s embarrassing, frankly, for all concerned.”
Agreements negotiated by the CFTC also normally include a detailed summary of factual and legal findings explaining how a company violated a particular law. Those findings, which typically appear in a settlement agreement, provide guidance to the public about the agency’s interpretation of its laws.
The CFTC’s settlement with Kraft and Mondelez didn’t include such a summary, which was another anomaly of the agreement, said Elizabeth Davis, a former CFTC lawyer who now works at Murphy & McGonigle PC.
The civil complaint filed against Kraft and Mondelez was based in part on an anti-manipulation statute in the Dodd-Frank Act, a 2010 law designed to boost regulation of the financial sector after the 2008 economic crisis. Other companies had been looking to the case for guidance on the anti-manipulation statute, Ms. Davis said.
”The fact that the settlement happened without legal conclusions means those questions are unanswered,” she said.