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Donald Trump's younger brother Robert dies aged 71

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Robert Trump with his brother Donald in 1999
Robert Trump with his brother Donald in 1999   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Diane Bonadreff, File
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Donald Trump's younger brother, Robert Trump, has died at the age of 71.

The US president visited his brother at a New York City hospital on Friday after White House officials said he had become seriously ill. Officials did not immediately release a cause of death.

A businessman, Robert Trump died Saturday night after being hospitalized in New York, the president said in a statement.

"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.

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.

In the 1980s, Donald Trump tapped Robert Trump to oversee an Atlantic City casino project, calling him the perfect fit for the job. When it cannibalized his other casinos, though, “he pointed the finger of blame at Robert,” said Blair, author of "The Trumps: Three Generations that Built an Empire."

“When the slot machines jammed the opening weekend at the Taj Mahal, he very specifically and furiously denounced Robert, and Robert walked out and never worked for his brother again,” Blair said.

He avoided the limelight during his elder brother's presidency, having retired to the Hudson Valley. But he described himself as a big supporter of the White House run in a 2016 interview with the New York Post.

“I support Donald one thousand percent,” Robert Trump said.