Former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry made headlines in 2020 for criticizing her brother's presidency in secretly recorded conversations
Like her brother, Barry was also involved in government, having served as a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals until her retirement in 2019.
Though she didn’t often speak publicly about Trump, in 2020, Barry’s niece Mary Trump released secretly recorded audio in which Barry criticized her brother's presidency.
"It's the phoniness of it all. It's the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel," she said, referring to his stance on immigration.
Nearly two decades prior to the released audio recording, Barry spoke positively about her brother, telling New York Magazine in 2002 that he consistently showed up for her.
“Six years ago, I had an operation. Donald came to the hospital every single day,” she said. “Once would have been enough — the duty call. That’s how love shows, when you go that extra yard.”
On Nov. 13, 2023, Barry was found dead in her apartment in New York City. Sources told ABC News that there were no signs of trauma or foul play.
The following day, sources told PEOPLE that Barry and Trump had "cooled the relationship" since her comments.
“As is the way it often is with thin-skinned Donald, when he heard about some of the things his older sister said about him to Mary Trump, he got bent out of shape and they cooled the relationship,” a source close to the Trump family said.
“Before that they had talked quite a bit over the years, as he admired and trusted her on many legal and business issues. He was proud of where she went in her career and boasted about it, often taking some credit for her success," the source added.
From her career as a federal judge to her relationship with her younger brother, here's everything to know about Donald Trump's late sister Maryanne Trump Barry.
She was born in Queens, N.Y.
Barry was born in 1937 to Fred Trump Sr. and Mary Anny MacLeod Trump as the first of five children. She was raised in Queens, N.Y., and attended Kew-Forest School.
She later graduated cum laude from Mount Holyoke College and received her master’s in public law and government from Columbia University in 1962.
She was married twice
Barry’s first marriage was to David Desmond, with whom she welcomed her first and only child, son David William Desmond. Barry and Desmond were married for 20 years before they divorced in 1980.
In 1982, Barry married her second husband John Joseph Barry, a trial and appellate lawyer. The two stayed together until John’s death in 2000 at the age of 60.
She delayed her law career while she raised her son
Barry purposely chose not to go into the family business of real estate in which Trump and their other siblings were thriving.
“I knew better even as a child than to even attempt to compete with Donald,” she told New York Magazine in 2002. “I wouldn’t have been able to win. He was building models when he was very young. Huge buildings.”
She added that while she worked for her father for a few summers, she was doing “woman’s work” like decorating lobbies, which turned her off from the family profession.
Instead, she dedicated her time to raising her son until he entered the sixth grade. At that point, she decided to go to law school and start her career.
She became a federal judge in 1983
After graduating with her law degree from Hofstra University, Barry started her career in government, eventually rising to become First Assistant United States Attorney in 1981.
In 1983, Barry was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Sixteen years later, President Bill Clinton nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
However, Barry retired from the bench in 2019 when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals launched an investigation into whether she and her father and siblings had engaged in alleged fraudulent tax and financial transactions. Ten days later, Barry effectively ended the investigation when she retired, per The New York Times.
Trump said he would consider her for the Supreme Court
In 2015, as he was running for the presidency for the first time, Trump told Bloomberg TV, per CNN, that his sister would be a good fit for the Supreme Court.
“I think she would be phenomenal, I think she’d be one of the best,” he said. He added that Barry was “very smart” and a “very good person.”
She criticized Trump in secret audio recordings released by her niece
In 2020, Barry made headlines when her niece Mary released a 15-hour-long audio from conversations that were secretly recorded in 2018 and 2019. In excerpts originally published by The Washington Post, Barry did not hold back when speaking about her brother and his presidency.
"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,” she added. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy s---.”
She also accused him of having someone else take his SATs to get into the University of Pennsylvania, where he transferred to after completing a year at Fordham University.
"He got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams,” Barry said. "SATs or whatever. That’s what I believe.”
The Trump administration denied the claim and called the accusation “absurd.”
She died in November 2023
Barry was found dead in her Fifth Avenue apartment around 4 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2023. ABC News reported that sources said there were no signs of trauma or foul play.
Sources added that the emergency crew responded to a call of a person in cardiac arrest.
Barry’s death comes three years after her brother, Robert Trump, died in August 2020 at 71 years old. Their other brother, Fred Trump Jr., died of a heart attack in September 1981 at the age of 42.
In addition to Trump and her son, Barry's immediate survivors include her younger sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau.
She and Trump had a strained relationship near the end of her life
The day after Barry died, sources told PEOPLE that she and Trump were in a bad place in their relationship before her death.
A source said that Barry was horrified by how Trump conducted business and the way he treated people over the years.
“She thought he was born without empathy for others, and was basically a ruthless and selfish businessman without character,” the source said. “She basically didn’t trust much of anything he did in business or politically.”
Another Trump source close to the family agreed that Barry was taken aback by the former president's behavior.
“Maryanne loved her brother but basically gave up on him,” the source said. “It was like sending your kids away to military school because you can’t discipline them at home. She didn’t talk trash about him in public but she'd had enough of his lies and fabulism, and overdosing on social media.”
They added that Barry thought Trump was too self-centered, but she kept those feelings private.
“She believed that he only thought of himself which was self destructive and basically ruined his life,” the source said. “But she maintained her decorum and didn’t talk about him much in later years.”
Regardless, another source based in Florida shared that "the family is upset about her death and will do whatever is needed to close out her affairs."
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