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Maryanne Trump Barry, former president's sister and a retired federal judge, dies

Federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, older sister of Donald Trump, sits in the balcony during Trump's election night rally in New York on Nov. 9, 2016.
Julie Jacobson
/
AP
Federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, older sister of Donald Trump, sits in the balcony during Trump's election night rally in New York on Nov. 9, 2016.

NEW YORK (AP) — Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal judge and former President Donald Trump 's oldest sister, has died at age 86 at her home in New York.

Until her retirement in 2019, Barry was a senior judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a level below the Supreme Court.

The NYPD confirmed that officers were sent to Barry's Manhattan home just before 4:30 a.m. and discovered a deceased 86-year-old woman. The cause of death was not immediately clear. Her death was confirmed by a judicial official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the news hadn't been announced publicly by either the court or Trump's family.

Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the former president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., spoke briefly about his aunt as he exited a Manhattan courthouse Monday, calling it a "rough day for myself and my family."

Trump Jr. told reporters after testifying in a civil fraud trial that he had been informed of the news as he pulled up to the courthouse Monday morning.

"I'm very close with her grandson. We hang out all the time. And so it's obviously a rough day for that," he said.

Before becoming a judge, Barry became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1974 and was nominated to the federal court in New Jersey by former President Ronald Reagan. She was later elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals by former President Bill Clinton. She retired in 2019 amid an investigation into her family's tax practices.

Barry had stayed largely out of the spotlight during her brother's presidency, but drew headlines after her niece, Mary Trump, revealed that she had secretly recorded her aunt while promoting a book that denounced the former president. In the recordings, Barry could be heard sharply criticizing her brother, at one point saying the former president "has no principles" and is "cruel."

Years before her brother became president, Barry wrote in a 2006 immigration case that judges had too little leeway to evaluate who should get to remain in the U.S. because of rigid laws that force "knee-jerk" decisions.

The case involved a man from Northern Ireland, Malachy McAllister, denied asylum by the 3rd Circuit panel on which she sat. Barry urged the federal government to intervene in the case.

"I refuse to believe that 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...' is now an empty entreaty. But if it is, shame on us," wrote Barry, who said McAllister's actions came as the Irish sought to end more than 800 years of British rule.

McAllister, a former member of the paramilitary Irish National Liberation Army, was convicted in the 1981 wounding of a British police officer.

Barry was also known for her wry sense of humor, evident in a 2015 case over fan access to Super Bowl tickets.

When the NFL compared the distribution practice to Catholic parishes that got a bounty of tickets to see the pope in Philadelphia, Barry's colleagues joked that the pope was skipping New Jersey altogether.

"We're used to it," Barry quipped.

Trump, who was one of five children, now has one living sibling, his sister Elizabeth Trump Grau.

The former president's younger brother, Robert Trump, died in 2020 at 71, and Trump held a service at the White House in his honor. His older brother, Fred Trump Jr., died of a heart attack at 42, which the family blamed on alcoholism.

Donald Trump's ex-wife, Ivana Trump, died in 2022 at the age of 73.

The news of Barry's death was first reported by the Daily Voice in Nassau County.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press
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