Donald Trump’s aides defended the president Sunday calling it ‘politics as usual’ after a secret recording emerged of his sister, Maryanne, calling him ‘cruel’ and confirming that he cheated on his SATs.
The president’s campaign aide Jason Miller dismissed the comments from Trump’s 83-year-old sister as typical ‘sibling rivalry.’
‘Sibling rivalries are nothing new in the world. It’s been going on since the beginning of time,’ Miller told NBC’s Chuck Todd on ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday morning when asked if he felt her newly revealed comments would impact swing voters or those on the fence about the November election.
‘Going into next week, it’s not something that’s going to be an issue,’ he assured.
Miller also pointed to other instances where siblings in the political world have spoken out against each other, including former President Barack Obama’s half brother Malik Obama speaking out against him.
‘This is something unfortunately when you get to the White House you have family members who sometimes decide to voice their sibling rivalries or frustrations. Nothing new,’ Miller said.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also went on the offensive during an interview with ABC News’ ‘This Week’, claiming this is ‘just another day and another attack.’
‘The president that I have the privilege of serving is not the one that’s being described on a 15-hour, I guess is what I’m reading, secret tape. I mean what family member tapes another family member for 15 hours secretly?’ Meadows lambasted Trump’s niece Mary, who recorded Maryanne and used part of it for her bombshell book about the president.
The president’s top aide also claimed that Maryanne did not show up to her own brother, Robert Trump’s funeral on Friday.
‘I’ve never met the judge,’ Meadows continued of Trump’s older sister. ‘I was at the funeral the other day, I was hoping to meet her there. She didn’t show up for her brother’s funeral.’
The recording of Maryanne Trump Barry was obtained by The Washington Post and serves as a confirmation of claims made by Mary in her memoir ‘Too Much and Never Enough’ where she claims the president paid someone to take his SATs.
Miller slammed the Post for publishing the exclusive content surrounding the president holding a funeral for his brother.
‘This past week, the president and Maryanne Trump lost their brother, Robert Trump. And he was just laid to rest and had their services for him at the White House on Friday, and I really do think that it’s shameful that the Washington Post came and ran the story yesterday, literally the day after the funeral services for Robert Trump,’ Miller said.
‘It’s just an attempt to try to tear down the president, to do that right after they lay their brother to rest, I think is shameful,’ he reiterated.
The president’s sister said in the recording, which she did not know was being taken, that Trump has ‘no principles’, ‘you can’t trust him’ and he has been ‘lying’ throughout his presidency.
She also slammed the president for his ‘phoniness’ and called him ‘cruel’ over his controversial migrant policies where thousands of children were separated from their families and held in detention centers.
Nancy Pelosi sympathized with Maryanne Trump on Sunday, claiming it’s ‘heartbreaking’ she has such a negative view of Donald Trump after a secret recording leaked where the president’s sister called him ‘cruel.’
‘It’s heartbreaking to think that a family member of the President of the United States would have that view of him,’ the House Speaker said during an interview with CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Sunday morning.
‘This is just further evidence of his inauthenticity and his lack of integrity,’ Pelosi told host Jake Tapper.
In the recording, Maryanne also dismissed Trump’s intelligence saying ‘he doesn’t read’ and cited some of his only accomplishments as his ‘five bankruptcies’.
Meadows defended Trump again during his Sunday interview.
‘I can tell you a number of other things that supposedly have been alleged that the president doesn’t read much,’ Meadows said. ‘Each and everyday, he reads probably more than anybody I know, which causes me to have to read more because every morning he’s giving me a to-do list. Every evening he’s giving me a to-do list.’
‘So, listen, this is politics as usual by a niece that was written out of a will that would apparently — just has an axe to grind because she wants Joe Biden to be president,’ Meadows continued of Trump’s 55-year-old niece.’
One of the most telling revelations in the leaked recordings, obtained by the Washington Post, is the confirmation that Maryanne was the source of claims made in Mary Trump’s explosive memoir that the president paid someone to take his SATs.
In the shock recording, Maryanne says she did his homework for him and ‘drove him around New York City to try to get him into college’ before she named Joe Shapiro as the man who took his exams.
Trump hit back after the recordings surfaced Saturday night saying ‘who cares’, that he misses his brother Robert who he held a funeral service for yesterday and insisting the ‘country will soon be stronger than ever before.’
Maryanne made the shocking comments in phone calls back in 2018 and 2019 with estranged niece Mary, who secretly recorded the conversations and has since parted ways with the Trump clan following the release of her spill-all book.
The release of the scathing audio from one of Trump’s nearest and dearest comes at a critical time for the president in the run-up to the November election, when his response to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing civil rights movement have pushed many voters to question his competence.
It casts alarming doubts of his own family’s confidence in his capabilities as leader of the United States, particularly given that Maryanne – and none of the rest of the Trump siblings – has never publicly criticized her younger brother or any of his White House policies before now.
Their release also comes one day after Trump held a funeral service at the White House for his and Maryanne’s brother Robert who died last week aged 71 – a service Maryanne was absent from.
Trump hit back at the recordings Saturday night in a rambling statement to Axios where he said he misses Robert and congratulated himself over his ‘results’ as president.
‘Every day it’s something else, who cares. I miss my brother, and I’ll continue to work hard for the American people,’ said Trump.
‘Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before.’
Mary Trump released the never before seen and heard transcripts and audio excerpts to the Post, revealing they came from 15 hours of secretly recorded conversations with her aunt back in 2018 and 2019.
In one of the audio clips, Maryanne accuses her brother of having ‘no principles’ and simply making political moves to ‘appeal to his base’.
The conversation came after the president said in a May 2018 interview with Fox News that ‘maybe I’ll have to put her at the border’ about his sister who was working as a federal judge at the time, reported the Post.
At the time, Trump was enforcing heavy-handed tactics at the US border, with migrant children being torn from their parents and placed in confinement.
‘All he wants to do is appeal to his base,’ Maryanne tells her niece in the recorded phone call.
‘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.’
Maryanne brands him ‘cruel’ and phony: ‘It’s the phoniness of it all. It’s the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel.’
Though she has not spoken out about Trump’s immigration policies to date, there was a marked difference in her own approach to refugees when working as a judge.
For example, in one case, Maryanne hit out at another judge over their treatment of an asylum applicant.
Maryanne went on to slam her brother’s actions as president, singling out his ‘lying’ and his avid use of social media.
‘His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God,’ she says.
‘I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy sh*t.’
Maryanne voices disapproval for ‘what they’re doing with kids at the border’ and says she assumes her brother ‘hasn’t read my immigration opinions’ in court cases.
On Sunday, Trump’s aide Miller said he has never heard Trump speak badly about his former judge sister, who retired in February 2019.
‘My conversations with the president over the years, I’ve only heard him say positive things about his sister, as someone who’s a very accomplished judge,’ Miller told NBC’s Chuck Todd. ‘I think he’s very proud of everything that she has accomplished.’
In the recording, Maryanne also makes a dig at her brother’s intelligence saying he ‘doesn’t read’.
‘What has he read?’ Mary asks in the recording, to which Maryanne replies: ‘No. He doesn’t read.’
In a separate conversation, Maryanne is also heard mocking her brother’s lack of interest in reading, along with his reliance on Fox News and apparent confusion over what she does with her time if she is not watching the channel.
She recalls in the call with Mary that her brother kept asking if she watched Fox – which Trump has a strong relationship with – to which she replied she didn’t.
When she told him she doesn’t watch much television at all, Maryanne says her brother was shocked asking: ‘What do you do?’
She tells Mary she told him she read, to which he had further questions.
‘What do you read?’ the president said.
‘Books,’ Maryanne says she replied, to which Trump asked again: ‘You don’t watch Fox?’
The audios also add weight to claims made by Mary in her tell-all memoir ‘Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man’ that Trump paid someone to take his SATs.
Mary alleges in the book that her uncle paid a friend named Joe Shapiro to take his SATs for him so he could attend the University of Pennsylvania’s famous Wharton School of Business.
She has until now refused to reveal the source of this key piece of information – despite being asked if the information came from Maryanne – saying only that it was ‘somebody who would have absolutely no reason to make it up’.
But the recordings reveal Maryanne confided in her about this event in a conversation on November 1 2018.
In the conversation, Maryanne describes her brother as ‘a brat’ and says she did his homework for him before someone else took his exams to get him into college.
‘He was a brat,’ she tells Mary.
‘I did his homework for him… I drove him around New York City to try to get him into college.
‘He went to Fordham for one year [this was actually two years] and then he got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams.’
Maryanne is heard questioning this information, saying: ‘No way! He had somebody take his entrance exams?’
Maryanne reinforces the claims: ‘SATs or whatever… That’s what I believe.’
‘I even remember the name,’ she says, before revealing their identity as Joe Shapiro.
Ex-tennis star Pam Shriver, the widow of Trump’s friend Joe Shapiro from Penn, said last week her husband never met the future president until they were at business school together saying this means he couldn’t have taken Trump’s SATS.
Trump has boasted in the past he got into Wharton because he is a ‘super genius’.
However an admissions official last year claimed Trump’s father had connections at the school and asked them to grant him an interview.
Maryanne meanwhile chose a life away from the family business, earning an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s from Columbia University and a law degree from Hofstra University.
She then went on to become one of only two women out of 62 lawyers in the office of the United States Attorney in New Jersey.
But despite her claims she helped Trump get into college, her brother ‘tried to take credit’ for her federal judgeship, Maryanne tells Mary in another call.
In the call, Maryanne recounts to Mary how she asked her brother if his attorney Roy Cohn could put her name forward to then-President Ronald Reagan to make her a federal judge.
‘He had Roy Cohn call Reagan about needing to appoint a woman as a federal judge in New Jersey because Reagan’s running for reelection, and he was desperate for the female vote,’ she recalls.
‘I had the nomination,’ she says, adding that Trump repeatedly brought up his involvement.
‘He once tried to take credit for me,’ she says.
‘Where would you be without me?’ she tells Mary her brother told her.
Maryanne says it created a deep rift between the pair, culminating in her threatening to ‘level’ him.
‘You say that one more time and I will level you,’ she says she told him.
It was ‘the only favor I ever asked for in my whole life,’ she says, adding that she got the role ‘on my own merit’.
By contrast, she blasted that her brother’s achievements on his own merits were ‘five bankruptcies’.
‘Donald is out for Donald, period,’ she says.
When Mary asks what Barry has accomplished on his own, Maryanne replies: ‘Well he has five bankruptcies.’
‘Good point. He did accomplish those all by his self,’ Mary replies.
‘Yes, he did. Yes, he did. You can’t trust him,’ Maryanne adds.
Several of the taped conversations reveal there is no love lost between the two siblings, including one where she admits Trump ‘didn’t talk to me for two years’ because of a disagreement over their dad’s will.
She also slams her brother for using their father Fred Trump Sr.’s 1999 funeral as a platform to talk about his own achievements rather than the life of their dad.
‘Donald was the only one who didn’t speak about Dad,’ Maryanne says.
‘I don’t want any of my siblings to speak at my funeral. And that’s all about Donald and what he did at Dad’s funeral. I don’t know. It was all about him.’
The recordings appear to reveal the source of some of the claims made in Mary Trump’s memoir, which was released last month despite repeated attempts from the White House and the Trump family to block it.
Chris Bastardi, a spokesman for Mary, said she started taping her conversations with her aunt in 2018 after she said she discovered her family conned her out of her full inheritance.
Under New York law, it is legal to tape a conversation as long as one party has given their consent.
In this case, Mary gave consent to the recording.
It is not clear if she taped calls with any other members of the Trump family.