Politics

Trump's sister said president has 'no principles' in secret recordings

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump's older sister Maryanne Trump Barry described him as a "cruel" man with "no principles" in tapes that were secretly recorded in 2018 and 2019 by his niece, Mary Trump. 
  • The recordings, which were published by The Washington Post late on Saturday, are the first to emerge from one of the president's siblings criticizing his character.
  • They show Barry, a former federal judge, delivering a critical assessment of her brother's handling of the presidency and provide the basis for some claims made by Mary Trump in her recent tell-all memoir which casts her uncle as a dangerous narcissist.
Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump, and Robert Trump during Opening of Donald Trump's Taj Mahal Casino - April 5, 1990 at Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.
Ron Galella | Ron Galella Collection | Getty Images

President Donald Trump's older sister Maryanne Trump Barry described him as a "cruel" man with "no principles" in tapes that were secretly recorded in 2018 and 2019 by his niece, Mary Trump. 

The recordings, which were published by The Washington Post late on Saturday, are the first to emerge from one of the president's siblings criticizing his character.

They show Barry, a former federal judge, delivering a critical assessment of her brother's handling of the presidency and provide the basis for some claims made by Mary Trump in her recent tell-all memoir which casts her uncle as a dangerous narcissist.

"All he wants to do is appeal to his base," Barry said in one recording. "He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this."

"His g------- tweet and lying, oh my God," Barry said. "I'm talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy s---."

Mary Trump told The Washington Post that she recorded 15 hours of conversations between her and Barry in an effort to demonstrate she had been misled about Trump family patriarch Fred Trump Sr.'s will.

In July, Mary Trump published "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," and she has said she is supporting Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden.  

President Trump, in a statement provided to the Post by The White House, dismissed the recordings as insignificant, and cited the death of his younger brother, Robert Trump, who passed away earlier this month. 

"Every day it's something else, who cares," Trump said. "I miss my brother, and I'll continue to work hard for the American people. Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before!"

Maryanne Trump Barry could not immediately be reached, and she did not provide a comment to The Washington Post. 

One of the recordings appears to show a source of the rift between President Trump and his sister. In it, Barry says that she asked her brother to help her secure a nomination from Ronald Reagan to the federal judiciary via Trump's lawyer Roy Cohn, who was known to be close to Reagan.

"He had Roy Cohn call Reagan about needing to appoint a woman as a federal judge in New Jersey," Barry said in the recording. "Because Reagan's running for reelection, and he was desperate for the female vote." 

Barry received the nomination, but later harbored resentment when President Trump "tried to take credit for me," Barry said. 

Trump asked her once, she said, "Where would you be without me?"

Barry said that she responded: "You say that one more time and I will level you."

Barry was nominated to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey by Reagan in 1983 and later elevated to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton. She retired last year, effectively ending a court inquiry into Trump family tax practices spurred by an investigation by The New York Times

In another recording, Barry said she worked to help get her brother into college, including by doing his homework for him. She also makes an allegation that appears in Mary Trump's book: That Trump did not take his college entrance exams. 

"He got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams," Barry said in the recording. 

"SATs or whatever," Barry said. "That's what I believe."

The White House has rejected the allegations in Mary Trump's book and said that she was motivated by her own financial self-interest.