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’”.

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