On Monday Maryanne Trump Barry, 86, died. She was the eldest sister of Donald Trump. She was a rare and tepid critic of her brother’s notorious presidency, being careful not to go too far in her casting of stones. But then, Maryanne Trump had some considerable skeletons in her own closet.
But she started well. Unlike her more famous brother, Maryanne had a track record of academic excellence. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College in 1958, and a Master of Arts in public law and government from Columbia University in 1962. She later attended law school, earning her Juris Doctor from Hofstra University School of Law in 1974.
In her later career she borrowed her brother’s most famous Machiavellian asset, the notorious lawyer Roy Cohn, who helped her secure an appointment by Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. A “favour” Donald Trump never let Maryanne forget.
Being perpetually jealous of his older sister’s academic success, Trump would frequently rhetorically inquire of her, “Where would you be without me?” In Donald Trump’s twisted mind he had vanquished his sister’s superior education by granting her a single favour. From that moment on he never worried about her proven superior academic record.
But Maryanne proved to be a real Trump in the end. In October of 2018, The New York Times published an investigative report exposing Maryanne Trump Barry in engaging in fraudulent and illegal activity to limit estate tax and gift tax liability stemming from her father Fred Trump’s real estate enterprises.
As a result of the Times article, a 2019 official investigation into judicial misconduct by Barry was launched. The investigation concerned her alleged participation in fraudulent tax and financial transactions. Ten days later, Barry, a senior inactive judge, announced her retirement from the bench. Her retirement effectively quashed the investigation as she well knew it would. And that, as they say, was the end of that.
So while Trump’s sister barely escaped legal consequences for her criminal behaviour, she didn’t salvage her reputation. The investigation remained a cloud over her otherwise stellar career, and haunted her until the day she died. Like her younger and far more criminally active brother, Maryanne just didn’t know when to quit. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.