Donald Trump paid tribute on Tuesday to his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, after her death at the age of 86, saluting her beauty and intellect but also complaining about what he called her “merciless” treatment by US news media after he became president in 2016.
Barry retired from the federal bench in 2019 after investigations of Trump family tax affairs seemed to implicate her in avoidance schemes.
She died on Monday at her home on the Upper East Side, in New York City.
“My great sister, Maryanne, passed away yesterday at the age of 86,” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Tuesday.
“A truly beautiful woman, tall and elegant, with a presence like no other, she was also a tremendous student, intellect, and judge, in charge of the United States court of appeals for the third circuit, just below the US supreme court.”
It long been known that Barry received her first judicial appointment, from Ronald Reagan in 1983, thanks in large part to Roy Cohn, an infamous mafia-linked lawyer who was then Donald Trump’s fixer. Barry was appointed to the appeals court in 1999, by Bill Clinton, and assumed senior status in 2011.
Trump continued: “Her life was largely problem-free, PERFECT, until I made it difficult for her when I decided to run for president.
“The Fake News, and others, went after her mercilessly, and because of the fact that she felt it inappropriate, due to her position, to defend herself, it just never stopped! While tough and strong, she was made to suffer in those years from 2016 until her retirement.”
In 2018, the New York Times said a blockbuster report on Trump’s taxes, which he had kept from public view, was in large part fueled by the discovery of a “disclosure form that … Maryanne … filed related to her Senate confirmation hearing”.
“In that document,” the paper added, its reporter “noticed a $1m contribution from an obscure family-owned company: All County Building Supply & Maintenance.”
A year after Barry retired, her niece, the writer and Trump critic Mary L Trump, released recordings in which her aunt was harshly critical of the then president.
Bemoaning “the phoniness of it all … the phoniness and this cruelty”, Barry said: “Donald is cruel.”
She also criticised him for not being a reader, and said: “His goddamned tweet[ing] and lying, oh my God … I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”
Donald Trump now faces 91 criminal charges, including 17 regarding election subversion, and assorted civil trials. Nonetheless, he leads polling regarding the Republican presidential nomination by vast margins nationally and in battleground states.
He did not comment on Monday on his sister’s death. On Tuesday, before issuing his statement about his sister, he used his Truth Social platform to attack the New York attorney general, whose lawsuit over his business practices landed him and his family in court; to post favourable polling results; and to complain about the latest Marvel superhero film.
Turning to his tribute to his deceased sibling, Trump said he would “never forget the many times people would come up to me and say, ‘Your sister was the smartest person on the court.’ I was always honoured by that, but understood exactly what they meant – they were right!
“She was a great judge, and a great sister. She will be truly missed!”