Donald Trump’s younger brother, Robert Trump, died on Saturday night aged 71 after being hospitalised in New York, the president said in a statement.
Trump on Friday visited his brother in hospital after White House officials said Robert had become seriously ill. Officials did not immediately release a cause of death.
“It is with heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight,” Donald Trump 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 youngest of the Trump siblings had remained close to the 74-year-old president and, as recently as June, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Trump family that unsuccessfully sought to stop publication of a tell-all book by the president’s niece, Mary.
Robert Trump had reportedly been hospitalised in the intensive care unit for several days that same month. He took blood thinners and had recently experienced brain bleeds after a fall, according to the New York Times.
Both longtime businessmen, Robert and Donald had strikingly different personalities. Donald Trump once described his younger brother as “much quieter and easygoing than I am” and “the only guy in my life whom I ever call ‘honey’”.
Robert Trump began his career on Wall Street working in corporate finance but later joined the family business, managing real estate holdings as a top executive in the Trump Organization.
“When he worked in the Trump Organization he was known as the nice Trump,” Gwenda Blair, a Trump family biographer, told the Associated Press. “Robert was the one people would try to get to intervene if there was a problem.”
Robert Trump was born in 1948, the youngest of New York City real estate developer Fred Trump’s five children.
“I have a wonderful brother,” the president during a news conference at the White House on Friday, the same day he had visited him in hospital. “We’ve had a great relationship for a long time, from Day 1,” he said.
But their relationship could be turbulent. The president, more than two years older than Robert, admitted bullying his brother in their younger years, even as he praised his loyalty and laid-back demeanour.
“I think it must be hard to have me for a brother but he’s never said anything about it and we’re very close,” Donald Trump wrote in his 1987 bestseller The Art of the Deal.
“Robert gets along with almost everyone,” he added, “which is great for me since I sometimes have to be the bad guy.”
In the 1980s Donald Trump tapped Robert to oversee an Atlantic City casino project, calling him the perfect fit for the job. When it cannibalised his other casinos, though, “he pointed the finger of blame at Robert”, said Blair, author of The Trumps: Three Generations that Built an Empire.
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