It’s easy to forget that Donald Trump has siblings. That’s because they don’t appear at their brother’s side. Instead, they toss him the occasional cheerful remark through the media while apparently making sure their 10-foot pole collection is in good condition. If they need any family comfort, they can apparently find it in the millions that were left to them from the estate of their father, Fred Trump Sr. However, that wealth didn’t get shared around equally. On Tuesday, Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against the only daughter of his deceased brother Fred Trump Jr.—whose family was explicitly left out of the family inheritance.
The claim against Mary Trump, as reported by The New York Times, is that she assisted Times reporters in obtaining a portion of Donald Trump’s personal tax returns. The lawsuit accuses Mary of being part of an “insidious plot” and being driven by “actual malice” toward Donald Trump. Trump claims at least $100 million in damages.
According to Trump, the release of his tax information violates a binding nondisclosure agreement connected to a lawsuit over his father’s will. That would be the will that gave Donald at least $413 million in carefully undervalued assets, provided his two other siblings with tens of millions, and explicitly left out the children of “my son Fred C. Trump Jr.” An earlier version of the will had divided the assets more evenly, but the final will was written with the help of Donald Trump at a time when his older brother was already dead and his father had been diagnosed with dementia. That new will took the $20 million that had been slated for Fred Jr.’s family and divided it between the other siblings.
It was exactly the revelation of how Trump, far from being a self-made man, actually took his wealth from his dying father, leaving his brother’s children with nothing, that Trump tried to cover up by suing to block the publication of Mary Trump’s book in July 2020. That lawsuit was unsuccessful. Now Trump is at it again, suing his niece for far more money than she’s ever had—with little evidence that her actions cost him a dime.
If there was any actual malice on Mary’s part, it’s very, very easy to understand why.
Fred Trump Jr. was the object of endless scorn from his father—scorn that seemed to have left him emotionally and financially wrecked. He died in 1981, at the age of 42, from a heart attack related to alcoholism. At the time, Fred Trump Jr. was living in the unfinished attic of one of his father’s multiple homes, and serving as a maintenance man for Trump properties. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was busy getting busy with the mob in Atlantic City, where he was taking the family’s real estate holdings and gambling them on a series of casinos.
In addition to being cut out of the will, Mary Trump and her family were also cut out of the much more lucrative means by which Trump drained the greater share of his wealth from his father’s estate. In the last years of Fred Sr.’s life, Donald Trump helped set up a “sham corporation” that was used to funnel money to himself, along with siblings Robert, Maryanne, and Elizabeth. Fred’s family was not included.
The lawsuit is riddled with hyperbolic language claiming that Times reporters pressured Mary Trump “to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office,” accusing his niece of engaging in “a personal vendetta,” and claiming that reporters were motivated by “their desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall” as well as to “advance their political agenda.” Trump attempted to block the release of the information that appeared in the Times, but lost a series of appeals—including losing twice at the Supreme Court.
In connection to the new lawsuit, Mary Trump spoke with The Daily Beast and gave her opinion of her uncle and his actions.
“I think he is a fucking loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can,” said Mary Trump. “It’s desperation. The walls are closing in and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”