The White House and Trump campaign on Sunday pushed back on newly released, secretly recorded audio in which President Donald Trump’s sister chided her brother as a liar with “no principles.”
The audio, obtained by NBC News and first reported on by The Washington Post on Saturday, was secretly recorded by the president’s niece, Mary Trump, who earlier this year published a tell-all book on the president’s family. The recordings amounted to more than 15 hours of discussion in 2018 and 2019 between Maryanne Trump Barry and Mary Trump, who used them as fodder for her book.
The recordings were on Sunday the subject of scorn from White House and Trump campaign officials.
Speaking with ABC’s “This Week,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the recording amounted to “politics as usual” for a niece who wants former Vice President Joe Biden to win the election this fall. He also took a shot at Barry, who he said did not attend the White House funeral on Friday for the president’s brother, Robert Trump.
“Just another day and another attack that we continue to see,” Meadows said, adding he has never met Barry, a formal federal judge. “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.”
“And 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,” he added. “I mean, what family member tapes another family member for 15 hours secretly?”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, called it “shameful” for the recordings to be publicized “literally the day after the funeral for Robert Trump.”
“I’ve only heard him say positive things about his sister,” Miller said. “He’s very proud of everything she’s accomplished.”
In the recordings, the president’s sister said the president was only interested in appealing to a narrow base of supporters.
“All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said in the conversation with her niece. “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.”
She went on to bash him as a liar who “doesn’t read.”
“I’m talking too freely, but you know,” she said. “The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”
Mary Trump released the recording to The Washington Post and other outlets including NBC News amid questions about some of the details in her book, including the claim that Trump paid a friend to take the SATs to help him obtain admission to the University of Pennsylvania.
Chris Bastardi, a spokesperson for Mary Trump, said she made the recordings because 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,” he said. “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.”
In the recordings, Barry discussed trying to help her brother get into college, adding that he had a man named Joe Shapiro take the SATs for him.
The president was friends with a now-deceased Joe Shapiro at the University of Pennsylvania. Shapiro’s widow and sister told The Post last month he did not take such a test for someone else, and Mary Trump has said it was a different Joe Shapiro.
Like most other members of the Trump family, Barry has not openly criticized Trump. Mary Trump has called for the president’s resignation.
“It’s the phoniness and this cruelty,” Barry says on the tape. “Donald is cruel.”
In a statement released late Saturday, the president said, “Every day it’s something else, who cares.”
“I miss my brother, and I’ll continue to work hard for the American people,” he said.
Speaking with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said “it’s heartbreaking to think that a family member of the president of the United States would have that view of him.”
Pelosi added, “this is just further evidence of his inauthenticity and his lack of integrity.”