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In private recording, Trump's sister says, 'You can't trust him'

Taken together, it appears many of those who get to know Donald Trump the best don't believe he's fit for the presidency.
Image: FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump gestures as he stands next to his sister Maryanne Trump Barry, during a break in proceedings of the Aberdeenshire Council inquiry into his plans for a golf resort, Aberdeen
Donald Trump gestures as he stands next to his sister Maryanne Trump Barry during a break in proceedings of the Aberdeenshire Council inquiry into his plans for a golf resort in Aberdeen, Scotland, on June 10, 2008.David Moir / Reuters file

Last year, Donald Trump's older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, generated national headlines when she stepped down as a federal appellate judge under a cloud of controversy. The New York Times had uncovered evidence of systemic fraud within the Trump family -- alleged fraud the president exploited to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from his father -- and the controversy led to questions as to whether the jurist violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

A year and a half later, Maryanne Trump Barry is suddenly making headlines again, this time after the Washington Post reported on private remarks she made to her niece, Mary Trump, about the president.

Barry, 83, was aghast at how her 74-year-old brother operated as president. "His goddamned tweet 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 s**t."

The retired judge also reflected on Donald Trump's refusal to read much of anything, his "phoniness," his "cruelty," and his ability to get into University of Pennsylvania "because he had somebody take the exams."

In audio recordings that were also obtained by NBC News, Barry ultimately said of her younger brother, "You can't trust him."

The context for all of this is important: Maryanne Trump Barry apparently thought she was having private conversations with a family member, and she probably didn't know Mary Trump was secretly recording their chats. This is not an instance in which Barry made a deliberate, public denunciation of the president; this is a situation in which the public is getting a peek into unvarnished and personal reflections of someone who didn't expect the public to hear her concerns.

And while there's certainly room for debate about the propriety of these circumstances, the fact remains that we can't unlearn what we now know: Donald Trump hasn't even earned the respect and/or trust of some members of his own family.

It's part of a striking pattern. The president also isn't trusted or respected by former members of his own cabinet. Or former members of his White House team. Or former executives at the Trump Organization.

Taken together, it appears many of those who get to know Donald Trump the best don't believe he's fit for the presidency.