Inside Tiffany Trump's Strained Relationship with Her Dad: 'They Go Months Without Speaking'
This past week alone, Tiffany tagged along with her father as he gave a speech on infrastructure in Ohio; hitched a ride with him on Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago for Easter weekend (where they also attended an holiday church service together); and returned with the president to Washington, D.C. for the annual White House Easter egg roll.
Tiffany told PEOPLE in 2016 that since she grew up with mom Marla Maples, Trump’s second wife, in California, visiting her father on her spring breaks from school became a tradition. “I still see him on spring breaks or for Easter, I’m always at Mar-a-Lago with the family,” the Georgetown Law School student explained.
But insiders tell PEOPLE that behind the scenes, Tiffany’s already strained relationship with her father has hit new lows since he took office in January 2017, with the pair going months at a time without contact.
“Since the inauguration, Tiffany and her father have sometimes gone for months without speaking and she went a very long time without seeing him,” a source close to Trump’s younger daughter says. “The last time she was at a family function with him, it was awkward for her and she didn’t feel totally welcome.”
Although Tiffany, 24, was rarely seen on the campaign trail — especially in comparison to her far more visible older half-siblings, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric — she did make appearances with her father in the final days before the 2016 election and also spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention in July. The source tells PEOPLE that Trump and Tiffany’s time on the road included “bonding moments” that brought the father and daughter closer together — but that closeness was short-lived.
“They always had a strained relationship her whole life, and it got exacerbated by the presidency,” the source says. “It’s gotten much worse now.”
The White House did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Tiffany, Trump’s only child with second wife Marla Maples, also has a distant relationship with her older half-siblings, says another source, in part because of the drama that engulfed the family in the 1990s when the real estate mogul left first wife Ivana Trump for then-mistress Maples.
Though Trump has mended fences and become friendly with his first wife — who is the mother of Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric — he and Maples’ relationship has been more fraught since she moved to Calabasas, California, following their own bitter 1999 divorce. Maples told PEOPLE in 2016, “That was my choice, raising [Tiffany] outside of the spotlight.”
But it rendered her essentially a single mother.
“Her daddy is a good provider with education and such, but as far as time, it was just me,” Maples recalled of raising Tiffany largely on her own. “Her father wasn’t able to be there with day-to-day skills as a parent. He loves his kids. There’s no doubt. But everything was a bit of a negotiation.” Maples added that she nevertheless encouraged Tiffany to have a relationship with her father.
“I would bring her into New York a couple times a year and let her go see her dad in the office and let her go have dinner with him and [Donald’s wife] Melania,” Maples recalled.
A second source close to the Trumps explains now, “There are some who will tell you that Tiffany is not as much in the mix as his other children because he didn’t have a good relationship at the end with Marla.”
“So Tiffany didn’t get to be as intimately involved with the family dynamic as Ivanka, Eric and Donnie Jr.,” the source continues. “She doesn’t really talk about her dad a lot. She’s always been somewhat independent of the whole family.”
The source adds that there wasn’t a rift between Tiffany and the rest of the Trump family so much as a more natural “separation of time and distance with Tiffany.”
“Tiffany did not really get to grow up in the Trump household … by virtue of living on the West Coast, she didn’t have all the same privileges” that her half-siblings had, like making site visits to see their father at work.
A third source close to Tiffany says the relationship between father and daughter is not “bad, but it is not easy.” The source says “they do see each other and Tiffany goes to the White House for holidays.”
Tiffany spent this past Christmas at her father’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida with the rest of the Trump family — as evidenced by a bikini-clad video her half-sister Ivanka, 36, a senior adviser to the president, posted on social media. The clip, which featured Tiffany and Ivanka wearing swimsuits as they lounged by the pool, faced criticism online, with some saying it was inappropriate behavior for first daughters.
On Friday, Tiffany and her father reunited for the Easter holiday, traveling to Mar-a-Lago together on Air Force One. After attending Easter Sunday church services in Florida with the family, Tiffany also returned to Washington, D.C., with her father to continue celebrating Easter at the White House’s annual egg roll.
Tiffany’s last White House appearance before that was apparently almost a year ago, when she quietly attended an event supporting the Wounded Warriors Project. That outing also marked her first public appearance at the White House, and her first in Washington since her father’s inauguration in January 2017. Tiffany, half-brother Eric and his wife, Lara, flew to the nation’s capital together from New York City for the occasion. From there, all five of Trump’s children — Tiffany, Ivanka, Eric, Donald Jr. and then-11-year-old Barron — joined him and wife Melania at Mar-a-Lago for a weekend getaway.
More recently, on Thursday, Tiffany appeared alongside Ivanka at their father’s speech on infrastructure in Cleveland, Ohio.
The third source tells PEOPLE, “Ivanka and Tiffany’s relationship isn’t strained but Ivanka has a very separate life.”
Ivanka told PEOPLE in 2016 that despite living on opposite coasts for much of their lives, she and her half-sister forged a special friendship. “We would see each other on all of the holidays and talk to each other frequently,” Ivanka said at the time. “She’s my little sister! I’ve been close to Tiffany her whole life, and I really love her.”
When asked if she was close with Maples, however, Ivanka was very clear: “I’m not,” she said. “She was out in California and really my relationship is with Tiffany.”
The first source says Tiffany’s more liberal politics and views on women’s rights have also driven a wedge between her and her Republican father and other conservative family members.
Apparently, she specifically disagrees with her father’s stance against stronger gun laws. On March 25, Tiffany appeared to “like” a photo from her verified Instagram account showing a protester holding a sign that read “Next Massacre Will Be the GOP in the Midterm Elections” at the New York March for Our Lives rally. It has also been reported that Tiffany’s former boyfriend, Ross Mechanic, from whom she recently split, is a registered Democrat.
But on Nov. 8, 2016, Tiffany cast her ballot as a member of the Republican Party.
For her part, Tiffany told PEOPLE last year that she sees her father as much as possible and they speak on the phone.
“I think regardless of distance, I don’t think that dictates any relationship strains,” she said at the time. “I really have an emotional bond with him and he was always just the funniest, most loving father.”