Maryanne Trump Barry, former federal judge and sister of ex-president, dead at 86

A cause of death was not immediately announced

Andrew Feinberg
Monday 13 November 2023 17:41 GMT
The president with Maryanne Trump Barry in Abderdeen, Scotland, 2008
The president with Maryanne Trump Barry in Abderdeen, Scotland, 2008 (Reuters)

Maryanne Trump Barry, a former judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who was also the older sister of former president Donald Trump, has died.

Barry’s death at the age of 86 was reported by multiple outlets, indicating that she was found at her Manhattan home on Monday.

The former judge, who was first named to the US District Court for the District of New Jersey by then-president Ronald Reagan in 1983, was a graduate of Hofstra University Law School and a former federal prosecutor who rose to several senior roles in the US Attorney’s office for New Jersey when Reagan tapped her for a judgeship, reportedly at the behest of Roy Cohn, the late GOP fixer (and attorney to Donald Trump).

After 16 years on the bench as a trial court judge, Barry was elevated to the Third Circuit by then-president Bill Clinton in 1999.

Barry was widely respected and well-known in the legal community, and her reputation as a judge stood in stark contrast with the ultraconservative views her brother espoused as president. But during his 2016 campaign for the White House, he mused that she would be a “phenomenal” pick for the Supreme Court were he to be elected.

In a subsequent interview, Mr Trump walked back the suggestion and dismissed it as a joke, though he conceded that Barry was, in his estimation, “brilliant”.

Barry assumed a semi-retired senior status in 2011 and retired from the bench in 2017, shortly after her brother was sworn in as the nation’s 45th chief executive.

Her formal retirement ended a probe into whether a fraudulent tax scheme carried out by her and her siblings violated the US judicial code of conduct.

In 2020, her views on her brother’s presidency were laid bare in a series of audio recordings released by her niece, Mary Trump, during public appearances to promote her book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

In the surreptitiously-made audio tapes, Barry savaged her brother as having no concerns as president but to please his political base.

“He has no principles. None. His goddamned tweeting 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,” she said.

She also told her niece that Mr Trump had paid someone to take college entrance examinations for him and criticised her brother’s “phoniness” and “cruelty”.

“You can’t trust him” she added.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in