Who is Maryanne Trump Barry, Donald Trump's Older Sister?

"I knew better even as a child than to even attempt to compete with Donald."

us property tycoon donald trump l is p
(Image credit: AFP)

Throughout President Trump's time in office, we've gotten to know his children, particularly Ivanka, very well—but what about everyone else? Despite reeking of only child syndrome, the reality star-turned-President is actually one of five children. Most of his siblings have tried hard to keep themselves out of the public eye while their brother serves in the White House, but recent events have made that impossible.

A new tell-all bookToo Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man, written by Trump's only niece, Mary L. Trump, recently hit bookshelves. The release has forced his older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, back in the public eye, in part due to comments she's made about her brother in the past. Before we dive into that latest controversy surrounding the Trump family, here's a short history of Barry's life and where she exactly fits into one of America's most well-known families.

The oldest of the five children, Maryanne was born in 1937. She grew up in Queens' Jamaica Estates neighborhood with the rest of her family. Barry went to Mount Holyoke College for her undergraduate degree and later earned her master's from Columbia in 1962.

She had one child from her first marriage, a son named after his father, David William Desmond. The pair divorced in 1980 after 20 years of marriage. She later wed lawyer John J. Barry in 1982. When her son entered the sixth grade, she enrolled at Hofstra University's law school, graduating in 1974.

She told New York magazine in 2002 why she didn't go into the family business like her brother was to avoid any sibling rivalry. "I knew better even as a child than to even attempt to compete with Donald," she said. "I wouldn't have been able to win. He was building models when he was very young. Huge buildings."

donald trump's proposed golf course

Maryanne Trump Barry and Donald Trump at a press conference in 2008.

(Image credit: Andrew Milligan - PA Images)

Maryanne was nominated for judicial posts by presidents of both parties.

I know what you're thinking: What?! Yeah: In 1983, she was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan to the U.S. District Court. It's said that Trump asked his lawyer, Roy Cohn, to lobby a White House aide on her behalf.

"There's no question Donald helped me get on the bench," she revealed in The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire. "I was good, but not that good."

But then-New Jersey governor Thomas Kean told The New York Times that everyone recommended Barry for the role without even knowing she was related to Donald Trump. "They wanted a woman, and they asked me if I had a good woman," said Kean to NYT. He recalled, "every one of them recommended the same name, Maryanne Barry."

As for the Democrat who supported her? That would be President Bill Clinton when he nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1999. "I am deeply honored and very grateful for the nomination," she said to the New Jersey Law Journal on the news. "I am surprised I was approached on it. I assume that my record is good enough as a district court judge to be reached out to, and I'm glad that politics weren't a priority here."

Maryanne semi-retired by taking "senior status" in June 2011 and would later take "inactive senior status" in February 2017, just a couple of weeks after her brother's inauguration. Two years later, Barry received notice that a judicial conduct council was reviewing related complaints against her after an NYT story came out claiming that many Trump family members, including Maryanne, had "engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s." She retired a week and a half later on February 11, 2019.

As for where she stood as a judge, she is considered a conservative-leaning judge. From a citing of a law review studyThe Washington Post said she appeared to be near the middle of the spectrum when it came to her ideological leanings.

opening of donald trump's taj mahal casino april 5, 1990

Donald Trump, Maryanne Barry Trump, and Robert Trump during opening of Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino in 1990.

(Image credit: Ron Galella)

Maryanne has spoken against her brother multiple times.

By now, you know of the book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man, written by Trump's niece Mary L. Trump. Before its debut, Mary released multiple audio recordings with her aunt during where Maryanne discussed her brother.

"All he wants to do is appeal to his base. He has no principles. None. None. ... His goddamned tweeting and lying, oh my God," she said. "I'm talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit." She even revealed that her brother had someone take his SAT for him. She continued saying, "It's the phoniness of it all. It's the phoniness and this cruelty. Donald is cruel."

President Trump responded in a statement to the comments saying, " Every day it's something else, who cares. I miss my brother, and I'll continue to work hard for the American people. Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before!"


Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. In addition to spearheading commerce content across brands—from writing about wardrobe must-haves and sales at major retailers to strategizing—she is also an avid reader with a deep love and knowledge for books of all genres. More often than not, you can find her lounging with a good book on the weekend.