Politics

President Trump and siblings sued by niece Mary Trump, who claims they swindled her out of millions of dollars

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump and two of his siblings were sued on charges of fraud and civil conspiracy by their niece Mary Trump, who claims they swindled her out of millions of dollars to which she was entitled after the death of her father.
  • The lawsuit comes on the heels of a best-selling tell-all book by Mary Trump that was scathingly critical of the president.
  • The president's brother Robert died last month. The other named defendant is Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal appeals court judge.
Mary L. Trump interview on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow
MSNBC

President Donald Trump and two of his siblings were sued on Thursday by their niece Mary, who accused them of fraud for allegedly swindling her out of millions of dollars to which she was entitled after the death of her father.

In addition to the president, the other defendants are retired federal appeals court Judge Maryanne Trump Barry and the executor of the estate of Robert Trump, who died last month.

"For Donald J. Trump, his sister Maryanne, and their late brother Robert, fraud was not just the family business — it was a way of life," Mary Trump's lawsuit said. "All told, they fleeced her of tens of millions of dollars or more."

The lawsuit filed in New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan comes on the heels of the publication of Mary Trump's best-selling, tell-all book that was scathingly critical of the president.

And it comes less than six weeks before the Nov. 3 election, in which the president is facing a challenge from Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

This past summer, a lawsuit filed under Robert Trump's name failed to prevent the publication of Mary Trump's book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man."

That suit claimed that Mary Trump violated a nondisclosure agreement she signed to settle a similar legal allegation about being denied assets due her.

Donald Trump with sister Maryanne Trump Barry and brother Robert Trump attend the Trump Taj Mahal opening April 1990 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Sonia Moskowitz | Getty Images

Mary Trump's new suit claims that her aunt and uncles committed to watching over her financial interests when their brother and her father, Fred Trump Jr., died in 1981. Mary was 16 at the time.

"Upon his death, Mary inherited valuable minority interests in the family business," the suit said.

But instead of protecting her interests, the suit said, the defendants "lied."

"They designed and carried out a complex scheme to siphon funds away from her interests, conceal their grift, and deceive her about the true value of what she had inherited," the suit claims.

The alleged schemes included charging "exorbitant management fees, consulting fees, and salaries" from companies that were part of Mary's financial holdings.

"Defendants perpetrated three fraudulent schemes against Mary," the suit says.

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"Each scheme was a fraud in itself, but they also built on one another. First, Defendants fraudulently siphoned value from Mary's interests to entities Defendants owned and controlled, while disguising those transfers as legitimate business transactions (the 'Grift')," the suit said.

"Second, Defendants fraudulently depressed the value of Mary's interests, and the net income they generated, in part through fraudulent appraisals and financial statements (the 'Devaluing')," the suit claims.

"Third, following Fred Sr.'s death, Defendants forced Mary to the negotiating table by threatening to bankrupt Mary's interests and by canceling the healthcare policy that was keeping [Mary's brother] Fred III's infant son alive, and once at the table Defendants presented Mary with a stack of fraudulent valuations and financial statements, and a written agreement that itself memorialized their fraud, and obtained her signature (the 'Squeeze-Out')."

"Through each of these schemes, Defendants not only deliberately defrauded Mary out of what was rightfully hers, they also kept her in the dark about it — until now," the suit says.

The suit makes claims of fraud, civil conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty.

The lawsuit says that Mary Trump, who had previously reached a financial settlement with her uncles and aunt over claims to her grandfather Fred Trump Sr.'s estate, only learned that she would have been entitled to much more after a New York Times expose of the Trump family in 2018.

The deal that she reached two decades ago assumed the Trump family's estate was worth $30 million, according to Mary Trump. But she later came to believe that it was closer to $1 billion.

"My uncles Donald and Robert and aunt Maryanne were supposed to be protecting me as my trustees and fiduciaries," Mary Trump said in a statement.

"Recently, I learned that rather than protecting me, they instead betrayed me by working together in secret to steal from me, by telling lie after lie about the value of what I had inherited, and by conning me into giving everything away for a fraction of its true value," Mary Trump said.

"I am bringing this case to hold them accountable and to recover what is rightfully mine."

Mary Trump is being represented by attorney Roberta Kaplan, who is representing the writer E. Jean Carroll in a civil defamation lawsuit against the president over his claim that Carroll lied by saying she was raped by him in the mid-1990s in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, when asked about the lawsuit, told reporters, "the only fraud committed there was Mary Trump recording one of her relatives, and she's really discredited herself."

McEnany's statement referred to Mary Trump having secretly recorded her aunt, Barry, in 2018 and 2019, talking about President Trump.

The Washington Post, in an article last month detailing those calls, said Barry had said of President Trump, "He has no principles. None," that the president lies regularly, that he "was a brat" as a teenager when she did his homework for him.

"It's the phoniness of it all," Barry said on one call quoted by The Post. "It's the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel."

A lawyer for Robert Trump did not immediately return requests for comment from CNBC on the lawsuit. Contact information by Maryanne Trump Barry was not immediately available.

Fred Trump Sr., a real estate developer, died in 1999.