In the recordings, Maryanne Trump Barry called her brother "cruel" and criticized his job as president

By Eric Todisco
August 23, 2020 03:15 PM
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Donald Trump's older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, harshly criticized the president in conversations that were secretly recorded in 2018 and 2019 by their niece, Mary Trump.

In the 15-hour-long audio, excerpts of which were published by The Washington Post on Saturday, Barry, 83, did not hold back when speaking about her brother, 74, and how he's handled the presidency.

"All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry, a former federal judge, 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---.”

Mary, the daughter of Trump's late older brother, Fred Trump Jr., told the Post that she recorded 15 hours of conversation between her and Barry in an effort to demonstrate she had been misled about Trump family patriarch Fred Trump Sr.’s will.

A spokesman for Mary told the paper she "never expected to learn much of what she heard" — some of which was then published in a scathing memoir this summer, Too Much and Never Enough. Mary wrote in her book that the information there came in part from her memories and through other discussions, and she mentioned talking with her aunt specifically.

But she previously told PEOPLE that Barry did not know in their talks that what she said would later be used: "She was not a source in that way, the way sources are aware that they're sources."

"I struggled with it for a long time, and I'm not going to get into why ... [or] how I made my peace with it. But I did," Mary told PEOPLE.

She also framed her choices and her aunts and uncles' behavior in the context of what she called that deceit about Trump Sr.'s estate: "I'm not entirely sure why family loyalty should, if you'll forgive the term, trump my desire to tell the truth."

From left: Donald Trump and his sister Maryanne Trump Barry
| Credit: ED Jones/AFP via Getty Images

In another of her recordings, Barry spoke about her brother's strict immigration policies. "It's the phoniness of it all. It's the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel," she said.

Barry also claimed in the recordings that the president did not take his college entrance exams on his own — which Mary similarly claimed in her memoir without at first revealing the source of that allegation. (The White House has denied the claim and called Mary's account "absurd.")

"He got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams,” Barry said. "SATs or whatever. That’s what I believe.”

In a statement to the Post, Trump dismissed the recordings as insignificant and cited his brother Robert, who died earlier this month at the age of 71.

"Every day it’s something else, who cares,” the president 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!”

From left: Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump Barry and Robert Trump
| Credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In June, Mary published Too Much and Never Enough, which recounts the president's alleged tumultuous relationship with his father, Fred Trump Sr., and how the patriarch's dysfunction — in Mary's words — shaped her uncle's personality and politics for the worse in connection with her own father's ruin and early death in 1981.

"Donald's monstrosity is the manifestation of the very weakness within him that he's been running from his entire life," she wrote. "For him, there has never been any option but to be positive, to project strength, no matter how illusory, because doing anything else carries a death sentence; my father's short life is evidence of that."

"But he can never escape the fact that he is and always will be a terrified little boy," Mary wrote.

From left: Donald Trump and Mary Trump
| Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty; Mary Trump/Twitter

Since the release of Too Much and Never Enough, Trump has heavily criticized his niece. In an interview with Fox News last month, he said Mary "was not exactly a family favorite."

"We didn’t have a lot of respect or like for her," Trump said.

Mary's memoir ranked as Amazon's best-selling book a week after its release. Publisher Simon & Schuster said that Too Much and Never Enough sold more than 1.35 million copies in its first week.

• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON