Robert Trump, the younger brother of U.S. President Donald Trump, died on Saturday in New York at the age of 71, the U.S. president announced in a statement issued by the White House.
“It is with a heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight,” Trump said. “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.”
U.S. media had reported earlier that Robert Trump, who was hospitalised in New York, was seriously ill, but did not mention the nature of his illness. President Trump visited him in hospital on Friday for about 45 minutes. However, he only told the press that his brother was “having a tough time.”
According to a family friend who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity, Robert had recently suffered brain haemorrhage as a result of a fall and in recent weeks his health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer speak on the telephone.
Although much less famous than his brother, Robert Trump had long been an integral part of the family’s real estate empire and was absolutely loyal to the president, even though their relationship had its ups and downs.
He had tried in vain to get a court to ban the publication of a book by his niece Mary Trump describing Donald Trump as the product of a “toxic” family. Robert Trump, who felt the book was “a shame,” obtained a temporary block on its publication, which was then lifted in July by a judge.
Donald Trump had often described his brother as “wonderful,” saying they had had a great relationship from day one.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, said on Saturday on Twitter: “Uncle Robert, we love you. You are in our hearts and prayers, always.”