The younger Ivanka Trump watched her parents go through a tumultuous divorce. And she had to cope with the fact that her personal family drama was also very public fodder for the tabloids. Reporters even once asked a 9-year-old about her dad’s prowess in bed, according to a new book.
“The third grader had no place to hide,” writes Nina Burleigh in Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump’s Women. “Reporters waited outside the doors of [Ivanka’s] private school, The Chapin School, snapping pictures and hollering questions, including whether Marla Maples’s claim about Donald’s bedroom skills was true.”
Burleigh pulls from Ivanka’s own writings and other sources to reveal how her childhood, and her relationship with her businessman-turned-president father, has shaped her.
Donald Trump‘s headline-making affair with Marla Maples, who would become his second wife, and his bitter divorce from Ivanka’s mother, Ivana Trump, traumatized her and her two brothers, Donald Jr. and Eric, according to the book. (Trump was married to Ivana from 1977 until 1992, and to Maples — with whom he shares daughter Tiffany — from 1993 to 1999. In 2005, he married his third and current wife, First Lady Melania Trump, with whom he shares son Barron, 12.)
In Ivanka’s 2010 book, The Trump Card, which Burleigh cites, the 36-year-old first daughter wrote about how the tabloid headlines rocked her and her siblings as children.
“One day the headline was ‘THEY MET IN CHURCH!’” Ivanka wrote. “The next time it was ‘SEPARATE BEDS!’ The worst was a New York Post cover photo of Marla Maples, a woman I’d never met, who was being talked about as my father’s new girlfriend, claiming that she had spent the night with my father beneath a headline that shouted ‘THE BEST SEX I EVER HAD!’ Can you imagine?”
Then came the reporters, who hounded the third grader and yelled the question about her dad’s sex life.
“What type of person would ask a nine-year-old girl that kind of question?” Ivanka said, according to Burleigh’s book. “About her own father, no less?”
Writes Burleigh, “The school eventually noticed Ivanka’s trauma and sent her home after she broke down in class one day.”
In her recent memoir, Raising Trump, Ivanka’s mother, Ivana, cast blame on Maples.
“She actively participated in humiliating me in the media and indirectly put my kids at risk for months,” writes Ivana. “I went through hell, and then I was expected to be okay with her being around my children?”
“We all have deep scars from that period of our lives, in part due to her actions,” she adds.
After their divorce in 1990, Donald and Ivana Trump sent their three children to boarding school to shield them from the tabloid circus. (“It was just too much,” Trump told PEOPLE in September 2016.)
“He’s been protecting us from the public eye for a long time,” Eric said of his father, during a group interview with PEOPLE in July 2016. “We never made the tabloids when we were younger. He was the man that, his whole life, he’s always had thousands of cameras on him and yet we were raised as normal kids, or at least as normal as you could be raised under the circumstances.”
The Trump family
“When we were kids, we’d be sitting in a boardroom while he was negotiating a deal, and if we were playing with trucks, making noise, it didn’t matter,” recalled Donald Jr., who now has five children of his own.
And Ivanka added, “He was tough, firm, but always available to us.”
Despite her parents’ efforts to protect her, Ivanka was still shaped by that traumatic time period, Burleigh writes.
“[Ivanka] was never a wild child like some daughters of the men in her dad’s set — never a PR disaster like famous-for-being-rich Paris Hilton, or a family tragedy like the drug-addicted Johnson & Johnson heiress,” the author writes, “or even one of the countless private family problem kids she’d known since primary school who were doing tours in expensive Florida or Minnesota rehabs. And her stability was real.”
A family friend allegedly told the author, “I can tell you that I knew people who’ve been in a room with only the family, and Ivanka is always poised, always picture perfect, always on record, and on brand.”
She continued, “There are no stories of her dancing on tables. She’s always been on target.”
That doesn’t stop Burleigh from questioning what’s going on underneath what she sees as Ivanka’s facade of perfection.
“The outer shell of the marvelous construction that is Ivanka encloses a woman who has sublimated a childhood of trauma as the daughter of a megalomaniac,” she writes, “whose very public antics exposed his family to humiliation in the greatest sex scandal of the late twentieth century.”