Maryanne Trump Barry, the eldest sister of former President Donald Trump, has died, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN. She was 86.
Barry, a former federal judge and prosecutor, was selected by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the Federal District Court in New Jersey in 1983. She was subsequently nominated by President Bill Clinton to the 3rd Court of Appeals in 1999 and retired in 2019.
Her retirement came amid an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by committing tax fraud following reporting from The New York Times that alleged the former president and his siblings utilized tax schemes to inflate their inheritances. A disclosure form from Barry's Senate confirmation that presented a US $1 million contribution from a Trump family-owned company reportedly played a vital – though inadvertent – role in uncovering the alleged fraud.
Because she retired, the investigation into Barry closed, leaving her entitled to an annual retirement salary and free from judicial rebuke. Her attorney denied the allegations.
Donald Trump's rise in politics would soon bring further attention to his family. Though Barry never spoke publicly about disagreements with her brother, audio excerpts from conversations between Barry and her niece, Mary Trump, obtained by CNN in 2020 unveiled Barry delivering sharp criticism of the then commander-in-chief. The Washington Post first obtained the previously unreleased transcripts and audio from Mary Trump.
Barry was one of the former president's closest confidants throughout his life, and one of the few people whose counsel he sought, though a rift in the relationship happened during his last year in office when his niece released recordings of Barry speaking critically of her brother. Trump was deeply hurt by the comments, a source directly familiar with the comments told CNN at the time.
"Donald's out for Donald," Barry said to her niece, an outspoken critic of Trump's presidency and the author of a bombshell book about him: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man.
"His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God," Barry said on the recording. "I'm talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying."
At one point in the recording, she called her younger brother "cruel."
"He has no principles," Barry said. "None."
She also suggested her brother tried to take credit for her legal career, adding, "I have never asked him for a favor since 1981."
Barry reportedly revealed to her niece in a November 2018 conversation that Trump enlisted someone to take an SAT exam for him - one of the most widely circulated allegations in Mary Trump's book.
But in 2015, the current GOP presidential frontrunner spoke glowingly of his sister, suggesting she could be considered for the Supreme Court.
"I think she would be phenomenal; I think she would be one of the best," he told Bloomberg TV, characterising her as "very smart and a very good person."
In 2020, Mary Trump sued Donald Trump, Barry and the executor of her late uncle Robert Trump's estate and alleged "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." A judge dismissed that lawsuit last year, citing a decades-old settlement.
Barry, the oldest of five children, told New York Magazine in 2002 she did not pursue a law career until her son was in sixth grade. She graduated from Hofstra University's law school in 1974, according to the Federal Judicial Center.
In that same interview, she said she chose not to join the family business, saying, "I knew better even as a child than to even attempt to compete with Donald."