clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Robert Trump, Donald Trump’s younger brother, has died

The two had a complicated relationship.

Robert Trump, hugging his brother Donald on November 9, 2016, after Donald Trump delivered his acceptance speech.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Robert Trump, the younger brother of President Donald Trump, died at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan on Saturday, a day after a visit from the president. He was 71.

Robert Trump had a complicated relationship with his older brother, which included periods of estrangement earlier in their lives and gestures of public support for the older Trump’s political rise.

“It is with heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight,” the president said in a statement. “He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memory will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace.”

The cause of his death is unknown. According to the New York Times, he had experienced brain bleeds after a recent fall, and was on blood thinners. A CNN source said he had been sick for several months. Trump told reporters on Friday — the day of his hospital visit to his brother — that Robert was having a “hard time” with an unnamed health issue.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday before visiting him in Manhattan, “We’ve had a great relationship for a long time, from day one.” But much of their relationship was defined by conflict, according to some family members and colleagues.

“Donald had discovered early on how easy it was to get under Robert’s pale skin and push him past his limits; it was a game he never tired of playing,” Mary Trump, the niece of Donald and Robert, wrote in her recently published memoir. “Nobody else would have bothered — Robert was so skinny and quiet that there was no sport in tormenting him.”

Robert was the youngest of five children, and in contrast to his brother Donald, tended to avoid the spotlight. During his life, he worked as a business executive and real estate developer in various parts of the Trump family business.

According to a former Trump casino executive, John O’Donnell, an intense argument between Robert and Donald after the botched opening of a casino in 1989 “changed forever” their relationship. Robert stopped reporting to Donald after the incident, and wounds caused by the fight reportedly took years to heal.

Robert did offer some support to Donald’s political career. When Trump ran for the White House in 2016, Robert gave a full-throated endorsement for his bid. “I support Donald one thousand percent,” Robert told the New York Post. “I think he’s doing a great job. I think he’s got a great message.”

“If he were to need me in any way, I’d be there,” he added.

The brothers were photographed hugging after Trump’s election night victory in 2016. But after that, Robert rarely surfaced in public.

Robert Trump’s most notable public appearance since then may be his leading role in an unsuccessful lawsuit to block the publishing of Mary Trump’s memoir, which draws from personal experience with the Trump family and describes the president as “the world’s most dangerous man.”

Other members of the Trump family have expressed sadness about Robert’s passing on social media.

Robert Trump is survived by his wife Ann Marie Pallan, an adopted son from his first marriage, and two other siblings: Maryanne Trump Barry and Elizabeth Trump Grau.

Will you become our 20,000th supporter? When the economy took a downturn in the spring and we started asking readers for financial contributions, we weren’t sure how it would go. Today, we’re humbled to say that nearly 20,000 people have chipped in. The reason is both lovely and surprising: Readers told us that they contribute both because they value explanation and because they value that other people can access it, too. We have always believed that explanatory journalism is vital for a functioning democracy. That’s never been more important than today, during a public health crisis, racial justice protests, a recession, and a presidential election. But our distinctive explanatory journalism is expensive, and advertising alone won’t let us keep creating it at the quality and volume this moment requires. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will help keep Vox free for all. Contribute today from as little as $3.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.