Donald Trump’s older sister condemned her brother as cruel and having no principles, according to secretly made recordings released on Saturday.
Maryanne Trump Barry, a former federal judge, was covertly taped by her niece Mary Trump, whose recent explosive memoir denounced the president, in 15 hours of face-to-face conversations in 2018 and 2019.
Ms Barry, 83, criticised the president’s immigration policy at a time when the United States separated more children from their parents at the border than any other country in the world.
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“All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” she said in one recording first reported by The Washington Post and later obtained by The Associated Press.
“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.”
Ms Barry goes on to say she guessed her brother “hasn’t read my immigration opinions” in court cases.
“What has he read?” Ms Trump asks her aunt.
“No. He doesn’t read,” the president’s sister responded.
Ms Barry can also be heard criticising Mr Trump’s leadership.
She said: “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God.
“I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy s**t.”
At another point, Ms Barry is recorded saying: “It’s the phoniness of it all. It’s the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel.”
The recordings were released just a day after a White House memorial service for Robert Trump, the younger brother of the president and Ms Barry.
The president was dismissive of the recordings, in a statement issued by the White House attributed to him.
“Every day it’s something else, who cares. I miss my brother, and I’ll continue to work hard for the American people,” Mr Trump said.
“Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before.”
Doubts over the source of information in Ms Trump’s book about her uncle, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, have been persistent since its publication in July.
Nowhere in the text does she mention that she secretly recorded conversations with her aunt.
Chris Bastardi, a spokesperson for Ms Trump, said: “Mary realised members of her family had lied in prior depositions.
“Anticipating litigation, she felt it prudent to tape conversations in order to protect herself.”
The allegation in Ms Trump’s book that the president paid someone to take his University of Pennsylvania entry exams appears to stem from one of the recorded conversations with Ms Barry.
Ms Barry can be heard saying a Joe Shapiro took the test for Mr Trump. The president was friends with a person at the Ivy League university named Joe Shapiro, who is deceased. Shapiro’s widow and sister said he never took a test for anyone else.
Mr Bastardi said: “She [Ms Trump] never expected to learn much of what she heard, including the president’s sister, federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, state that Donald Trump had paid someone to take an SAT exam for him.”
Mr Trump has frequently spoken highly of his sister, and the recordings are the first time a family member, besides their niece, has been critical of him.
Additional reporting by Associated Press