Trump Opens up About Brother's Death From Alcoholism: 'I Do Regret Having Put Pressure on Him'

In rare comments about a traumatic moment in his life, President Donald Trump said he regrets pressuring his late brother about joining the family real estate business before he succumbed to alcoholism.

Fred Trump Jr. died of a heart attack aged 42 in 1981 after a long battle against alcohol addiction. He was good-looking, smart, popular, and aspired to be a pilot—against the wishes of his father, Fred Trump, and brother Donald—a dream eventually ended by his drinking.

Their father disparaged that dream, referring to it as merely "a chauffeur in the sky," and the president told his brother "you're wasting your time," The Washington Post reported. Fred Trump Jr.'s friends believe this pressure contributed to his stress-induced drinking.

"I do regret having put pressure on him," Trump told the Post in a candid interview with the publication, adding that helping to run their ever-expanding family business "was just something he was never going to want" to do.

"It was just not his thing," Trump said. "I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it. That would be the biggest mistake...There was sort of a double pressure put on him" by both the president and their father, who died in 1999 aged 93.

The president has said before that his brother's death had a profound impact on his life. In 1990, Trump told Playboy magazine that his brother's passing "affected everything that has come after it."

"I think constantly that I never really gave him thanks for it. He was the first Trump boy out there, and I subconsciously watched his moves," Trump said, adding that he learned valuable lessons from his brother.

"I saw people really taking advantage of Fred and the lesson I learned was always to keep up my guard 100%, whereas he didn't," Trump said. "He didn't feel that there was really reason for that, which is a fatal mistake in life. People are too trusting. I'm a very untrusting guy."

However, Trump has clashed with his niece and nephew, Fred's children, over his father's estate, which was worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Back in 2000, Fred Trump Jr.'s two children, Fred Trump III and Mary Trump, sued their aunts and uncles, including Donald Trump, in a dispute over their grandfather's will after they did not inherit a portion equal to that which would have gone to their father were he alive.

Instead, they each received $200,000, the same as the other grandchildren, while the bulk went to Fred Trump Snr.'s living children.

Moreover, there was a separate lawsuit brought by Fred III over his sickly baby who he argued was entitled to medical coverage by the estate. That was historically provided by Fred Snr. before he died, but was subsequently denied. Their medical bills topped $300,000.

"When Fred III sued us, we said, 'Why should we give him medical coverage?'" Donald Trump told New York Daily News at the time, and was undeterred by the suggestion that denying his ill great-nephew medical coverage was cold-hearted.

"I can't help that. It's cold when someone sues my father. Had he come to see me, things could very possibly have been much different for them."

However, the case was settled that year. Trump told the Post on Thursday: "One child was having a difficult time. It was an unfortunate thing. It worked out well, and we all get along."

Donald Trump Fred brother alcoholic drink
US President Donald Trump addresses the press during a visit to El Paso Regional Communications Center in El Paso, Texas, August 7, 2019. Trump spoke to The Washington Post about his late alcoholic brother, Fred Trump. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images