Updated Aug 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's sister says "you can't trust him" in audio leaked to WashPost

Donald Trump, Maryanne Trump, and Robert Trump during Opening of Donald Trump's Taj Mahal Casino - April 5, 1990 at Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey
President Trump with Maryanne Trump Barry in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1990. Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday sought to downplay comments made by his sister Maryanne Trump Barry in audio leaked to the Washington Post that he has "no principles," is prone to "lying" and "you can’t trust him."

Why it matters: Maryanne Trump Barry has never publicly criticized the president on his policies. But, according to 15 hours of secretive recordings made by their niece Mary Trump, the retired federal judge said of his immigration policies in 2018: "It's the phoniness of it all. It's the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel."

  • The latest controversy comes before next week's Republican National Convention, where Trump is to formally accept his party's nomination to run for a second term.

What he's saying: When asked for comment on the revelations, President Trump said in a statement to Axios: "Every day it's something else, who cares."

  • He added that he missed his late brother Robert Trump, for whom a funeral procession was held Friday afternoon at the White House.
  • "I’ll continue to work hard for the American people," Trump added. "Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before."

Context: Per WashPost, Mary Trump Barry made the comments to their niece, who wrote a best-selling tell-all book on her uncle, after he joked to Fox News in 2018: "Maybe I'll have to put her at the border" amid a shortage of judges.

"His goddamned tweet and the lying, oh my God. I'm talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy s---. But he's appealing to the base. What they're doing to the kids at the border, I mean."
— Excerpt from audio recording of Mary Trump Barry

What they're saying: Mary Trump's spokesperson Chris Bastardi said in a statement to Axios that the author made the recording after she "realized members of her family had lied in prior depositions." "Anticipating litigation, she felt it prudent to tape conversations in order to protect herself," Bastardi continued.

  • "She 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.
"Those with questions about who Joe Shapiro is, why the president chose him to take his SAT, and why such behavior was constantly rewarded should contact Judge Trump Barry and President Trump.
"Several prominent individuals are currently facing prison sentences for taking unethical steps to get their children into college. All while the President of the United States paid someone else take his SATs."
— Bastardi

Of note: The audio leak comes after a California judge's decision earlier this week was posted online Friday ordering Trump to pay Stormy Daniels $44,100, to cover legal fees over her $130,000 nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with the president, reached with his former attorney Michael Cohen.

  • Trump denies having an affair with the adult film actor, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and her lawsuit was dismissed. But the judge found she's the "prevailing party" in the case despite this as Trump had reimbursed Cohen and his lawyers had argued that an NDA arbiter should handle her defamation suit.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details from the audio recording and of the judge's decision in the Clifford case.

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