The Donald with sister Maryanne Trump Barry in Scotland in 2008. (Photo:Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
The Donald with sister Maryanne Trump Barry in Scotland in 2008. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was backpedaling faster than a pro football cornerback this week, distancing himself from some praise and money he gave Hillary Rodham Clinton when she ran for president in 2008.

It wasn’t love, just smart business, he told the Wall Street Journal, explaining that since she was a home state senator back then, it only made sense. The same would hold of course apply to the Clintons’ appearance at Trump’s 2005 wedding.

“When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” he said. “As a businessman, I need that,” he said, as he proceeded to rip into her record as secretary of state and her “criminal” e-mail practices.

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But the Clinton-Trump relationship goes back a bit further than that, we recall. After all, it was President Bill Clinton who did a very nice thing for the Trump family in June 1999, when he nominated Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Barry, a Republican and Reagan-appointed federal trial judge at the time, reportedly was herself surprised she was picked.

“I am deeply honored and very grateful for the nomination,” Barry, who’s a senior judge now, told the New Jersey Law Journal in 1999. “I am surprised I was approached on it. I assume that my record is good enough as a district court judge to be reached out to, and I’m glad that politics weren’t a priority here.

Well, maybe not a priority, but we were, after all, in the midst of l’affaire Lewinsky at the time, the GOP Senate was in no mood to confirm Clinton’s nominees and the seat had been vacant for three years.

Barry is a well-regarded judge, we’re told, and she was supported by both New Jersey Democratic then-senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Torricelli. (Trump has called Torricelli his “good friend” and “brilliant.”)

The Senate moved with lightning speed to confirm her unanimously on Sept. 13, 1999. (Let’s pause to think about that: Three months — including the August recess — from nomination to confirmation. What was that The Donald said about “when you give. . .”?)

Trump followed his sister’s hearings closely, as he noted in his book, “The America We Deserve.” 

He skewered  then-Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) for being mean to her at her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 1999, after Smith grilled her on her views about abortion.

Smith is “inarticulate, unqualified, and, according to several members I know, about the dumbest guy in the U.S. Senate,” Trump wrote. “Maybe if my sister had spoken more slowly he would have understood her.”

[Personal note: We wrote about this in January, 2000, and we also wrote: “President Donald Trump? Most Beltway insiders — and many others — dismiss the notion as absurd, figuring only a national nervous breakdown, or worse, could put the real estate developer and noted egomaniac in the White House." Now that he’s leading in GOP polls, we’d like to most humbly apologize.]