Trump has been criticised for using the White House for political events. Though private ceremonies are not common at the executive mansion, they are not unknown.
“We’re looking at Friday, and we may do just a small service right here in the White House for my brother,” Trump told reporters. “I think he’d be greatly honored … He loved our country so much. He was so proud of what we were doing and what we are doing for our country.”
Earlier on Monday, Trump told Fox News his brother had been his “biggest fan”, showing “no jealousy” as his famous sibling signed real estate deals, had “the number one show” and eventually won the presidency.
In a rambling answer, Trump also said his brother “was so angry with China because of what happened where the plague came in”.
That was a reference to the coronavirus pandemic in which more than 5.4 million people have been infected in the US and around 170,000 have died.
Robert Trump, 71, died in hospital in New York on Saturday. The cause of his death was not immediately made public, though he had reportedly been ill for some time.
In statement, the president said Robert “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.”
In his phone interview with Fox and Friends, Trump said: “Well we did interact and he was always there and he was, you know, he wasn’t a jealous person, he was a very smart guy but he wasn’t, you know, he would be there and he would be behind me and if … I had the number one show, if I had a big success and no matter what I did, whether it was real estate deals or anything else, he was right there. In many cases [he] helped me very much with whatever I did and then when I became president he was one of the most loyal people, there was no jealousy.”
Earlier this year, Robert Trump filed suit in New York, seeking to stop a niece, Mary L Trump, from publishing a tell-all book. The attempt failed and Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man became a huge bestseller.
Among plentiful descriptions of toxic relations between members of the Trump family, the daughter of Fred Trump Jr, who died in 1981, recounts how the young Donald would torment Robert by hiding his toys.
She also details an attempt by Donald Trump in 1990 to rewrite his father’s will to benefit him over his siblings, and how Donald, Robert and their sister Maryanne moved to disinherit their niece and nephew after Fred Trump Sr, the family patriarch, died in 1999.
Robert Trump worked for his brother in the 1980s but the high-profile failure of Trump’s casino operations led to a professional split.
“A lot of times in families,” Trump told Fox News, “I hate to say it but there’s jealousy and especially among children … that are competitive [and Robert was] very competitive. There was not an ounce of jealousy and he’d go around talking about how great this is for the country and it’s so incredible and he was my biggest fan.”
Trump then turned to the coronavirus pandemic, insisting his brother had been “so angry with China because of what happened where the plague came in and they shouldn’t have allowed it to happen, they could have stopped it”.
As the US economy flatlines and an election looms, Trump has sought to shift the blame to the country in which the novel coronavirus originated, in Wuhan province.
His brother, he insisted, “was so upset by that … More than people would be upset. A lot of people have already forgotten, and you can’t forget. But he was a fantastic guy.”