At the end of the second presidential debate las year, Hillary Clinton was asked to name one thing she respected about her opponent Donald Trump. It was unclear what Clinton would be able to come up with. The infamous Access Hollywood tape had been released only two days earlier, and Trump’s campaign had responded by bringing the women who had lodged complaints of sexual assault against former President Bill Clinton to the debate. But Hillary Clinton responded by praising Trump’s children, calling them “incredibly able and devoted.”
“I think that says a lot about Donald,” Clinton said at the time.
Clinton’s praise echoed similar sentiments that had reverberated through the campaign. No matter the controversy in which Trump was embroiled, his children were always held up as a beacon of his positive qualities. He could make controversial statements about women and immigrants, the argument went, but, based on his children’s public persona and devotion, he at least displayed an ability to raise accomplished and loyal children.
But Trump’s first wife Ivana, whose new memoir Raising Trump is being released this week, is throwing cold water on that argument. In the book, Ivana Trump says she essentially raised their three children—Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—by herself.
“I believe the credit for raising such great kids belongs to me,” Ivana writes in an excerpt of the book published by TIME. “I was in charge of raising our children before our divorce, and I had sole custody of them after the split. I made the decisions about their education, activities, travel, child care, and allowances. When each one finished college, I said to my ex-husband, “Here is the finished product. Now it’s your turn.”
She does, however, describe her ex-husband as a good father, highlighting her children’s devotion to him. “If he were a horrible dad, that would not be the case,” she writes.
While her children are praised for their loyalty to their father, they are also criticized for that quality. Donald Trump Jr., for instance, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month after it emerged earlier this year that he had arranged a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign because he had been promised damaging information on Clinton. In the excerpt, Ivana defends her children, writing that they are mischaracterized in the media. (She writes that Ivanka Trump has presidential potential, although she told TIME in an interview she thinks her daughter has “too much on her plate.”) She also told TIME before the book’s release that Donald Jr. had “zero interest” in Russia.
“I decided to share some stories about every stage of their lives, from infancy through the present, to set the record straight about who they really are,” she writes in the excerpt.