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Mary Trump On The President's Habit Of Insulting Others

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We are a little over a week away from Election Day, and it's been a long campaign season. Thursday marked the final presidential debate when President Trump and challenger former Vice President Joe Biden made their closing arguments to the American people.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success. But I'm cutting taxes, and he wants to raise everybody's taxes. And he wants to put new regulations on everything. He will kill it. If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you've never seen.

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JOE BIDEN: What is on the ballot here is the character of this country - decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance. And I'm going to make sure you get that. You haven't been getting it the last four years.

MARTIN: And this brings us back to another feature of the past week. And we're talking about President Trump's comments in particular here, when President Trump insulted the country's top infectious disease specialists, calling them idiots, and one in particular - the highly respected Dr. Anthony Fauci. He called him a disaster. He called CNN dumb bastards for continuing to report on the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 Americans. And in advance of the debate, he even insulted the debate moderator, calling her a radical Democrat.

So we wanted to ask, why? We wanted to check back in with someone who has unique insights into the president's behavior for this, and that is his niece, Mary Trump. Mary Trump is a trained clinical psychologist, and she's worked as a clinician. And earlier this year, she released her book with her views on how her family's history influenced her uncle's current behavior. Her book was called "Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man." And Mary Trump is with us once again.

Thank you so much for joining us.

MARY TRUMP: Oh, it's my pleasure to be here.

MARTIN: So did you watch the debate? I was just wondering what your thoughts were about how the president, your uncle, performed.

M TRUMP: I did watch it. And it was sort of more of the same. I know that the bar keeps getting lowered, so the fact that he wasn't ranting and interrupting and the fact that he was able to contain himself somewhat I guess led people to believe that he performed well.

But the truth of the matter is, his performance was a combination of lies, of conspiracy theories and of what I believe are the three things we should be focusing on going forward - his unrepentant racism, his horrific and willful mishandling of the COVID-19 disaster and, basically, the fact that United States policy is now to kidnap and incarcerate children and have no plan in place to return them to their parents.

MARTIN: When we last spoke, it was right after the president was diagnosed with COVID-19 himself and went to get treatment. He was obviously ill. He did receive aggressive treatment, some of which are not available to the regular, you know, public at the moment. And I asked you to describe his attitude toward illness.

Now I want to ask you to describe his attitude toward receiving information from people who have expertise outside of his own - because the president is not a medical professional. He's not an infectious disease specialist. And I am interested in why he has responded so negatively toward people whose only agenda is to help him, guide him through something that is outside of his expertise. Can you help us with that?

M TRUMP: He has a very particular idea of what the narrative about this needs to be. It's not a big deal. It's going away. It's getting better. Children don't get it. He has this series of talking points that he needs to put across.

And if he has anybody, including the world's foremost experts in epidemiology, telling hard truths about what we face and how serious this continues to be and how out of control this continues to be, he cannot let that stand because it contradicts him. And to agree with them would mean to admit that he was wrong, which is characterologically impossible for him to do.

MARTIN: I wanted to ask you about the comments I started earlier about Dr. Fauci and other members of the team, calling them idiots. And in the same appearance - this was at a public rally, by the way, and I do apologize for the language I'm using, but that is the language that the president used at a public rally, which was televised - calling CNN dumb bastards because they are reporting accurately, as most fact-based news organizations are, continuing to report about COVID.

Why are those the epithets of choice, in your view - calling people stupid and, you know, dumb and things of that sort? I mean, you see that he's often attacked certain journalists as being stupid and dumb, but why that?

M TRUMP: Donald is an extremely insecure person. One of the things he's most insecure about is his level of intelligence. And whenever he feels threatened, whenever he feels outclassed by somebody's superior intelligence or knowledge base or whenever he feels contradicted, he needs to go on the attack. And as he often does, he projects. He attacks the person with the thing he's most secure about in himself.

MARTIN: And finally, I know that, again, you say that the bar has been lowered for the president because his behavior was so inappropriate in the last debate. But he did indicate - and again, I don't know the mechanics of it. Like, I don't know whether the mute button that the debate organizers said would be implemented was, in fact, used. I did hear some crosstalk. But it does appear that the president was able to regulate himself in a manner that he was not or chose not to in the first debate.

Does that indicate that he does have that capacity, though - that he could pivot if he chose to, that he could pivot to be a more inclusive figure, that he could pivot to be a more disciplined figure if he chose to?

M TRUMP: No. What it's - he's not a raving lunatic, you know? He's somebody who does have some levels of self-control in particular circumstances. But in terms of, you know, if he were able as a political figure or as a leader to change his views of this country, to change his ideas about what his role is or to decide that, you know, the best course of action is to unite us instead of continuing to sow division and chaos, I would say no. He is utterly incapable of that kind of evolution.

MARTIN: Mary Trump is President Donald Trump's niece. She is also a trained clinical psychologist. Her book "Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man" is out now.

Mary Trump, thank you so much for speaking with us once again.

M TRUMP: Thank you. This was a great conversation. I appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.